Two schoolgirls in China have committed suicide in an attempt to travel back in time.
The girls decided to end their lives after one of them lost a remote control to a door, China Daily reports, via People's Daily. Xiao Hua told her best friend and fellow classmate, Xiao Mei, that she was worried about coming clean to her parents. The names are reportedly pseudonyms.
In an effort to avoid potential consequences, the girls allegedly took inspiration from a popular television show and committed suicide to travel back in time.
They left notes explaining their decision before jumping -- and subsequently drowning -- in a pool.
In a note obtained by the Shanghaiist.com, one of the girls explained her reasoning for her rash decision by writing: "In my life, I have two secret wishes. One is to time-travel back to Qing Dynasty and shoot a film with the emperor, and the other is to travel to outer space," the Christian Post reports.
The chain of events has raised concerns about the influence of media on young children, and the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television has placed restrictions on airing certain shows between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m., according to People's Daily.
But some aren't too sure about the story.
Anna North, a writer for Jezebel, observes that the article seems to highlight the apparent dangers of time travel-centered shows. She wonders whether the government had an influence on the direction of the article.
China Daily is a state-owned paper, described by the Committee to Protect Journalists as "straitlaced." People's Daily Online is the website of People's Daily, which until recently described itself as "the official newspaper of the Communist Party of China" — it now offers a more circumspect description: "one of the world's top ten newspapers." It's possible that Huang and China Daily were under pressure from the government to paint the girls' suicide as a direct result of the evil influence of time travel.
Additionally, the Wall Street Journal points out that media experts in China have also indicated officials might have not been crazy about the "themes of the shows, which centered on escaping discontent in the current era to journey back in time to a better life."