The suicide of a Peking University student, reportedly following prolonged psychological abuse from her boyfriend, prompted heated discussions on Chinese social media over the mental health among couples and denunciation of "mind control." Bao Li (pseudonym) attempted to commit suicide on October 9 by overdosing on pills used to treat motion sickness, and was declared medically brain dead last month.
Photos of WeChat conversations between Bao and Mou have been widely circulated on Chinese social media since last Thursday night. The photos reveal Bao referred to Mou as "master" and "baby," and Mou called Bao "dog" and "mom."
Mou, also a student at Peking University, solicited nude photos from Bao, and ordered her to become pregnant before having an abortion, giving him the medical records and undergoing sterilization. Mou insulted and devalued her.
Bao's mother told media that Mou was upset because Bao had had sexual experiences before their relationship and that she was not a virgin. He did not want to end the relationship, but used these details to psychologically torture Bao.
"You are so outstanding, but I'm just a piece of junk," read the last message Bao sent to Mou before her attempted suicide.
Bao's family told the Chengdu-based Red Star News last Friday that they have appointed a lawyer but have not yet decided upon which grounds they will sue Mou.
On the afternoon of December 12, Mou responded to thepaper.cn, saying he had been questioned by police after his girlfriend committed suicide. "The police have closed the case," said Mou, adding that he doesn’t know what mind control is.
As for the chat logs and other details of their relationship mentioned in the media reports, Mou said that's "a bit ridiculous."
The story soon went viral on Chinese social media as netizens heatedly discussed Mou's "mind control."
A pickup artist is a person who practices starting a relationship using a certain method deemed effective by that community in their attempts to seduce partners. Some PUA trainers teach people psychological games to trick others and toy women. Their lessens coach men to seduce and control women in progressive steps, from how to extort money to how to ask women to hurt themselves or even commit suicide to prove their love.
A website which offered single men courses in manipulating women into killing themselves and referred to them as “pets” and “prey” has been shut down and its operator detained by police in Jiangsu Province.
Bao's case has also ignited heated debate online concerning journalism ethics. The Southern Weekly, which first exposed the story on last Thursday, was criticized by many for failing to push for more responses from Mou, and failing to associate the case with the broader issue of mental health instead of simply catering to novelty-news readers.