Two 12-year-old Chinese girls have killed themselves in bizarre circumstances after leaving suicide notes saying they believed their deaths would enable them to travel back in time.
The tragic chain of events began when one of the girls decided to take her own life because she was so distraught at losing a house key. Her best friend, not wishing to live without her fifth-grade classmate, vowed they should die together. They each wrote suicide notes and hid them in a cupboard before jumping into a pond to drown themselves.
Xiao Mei penned that she dreamt of travelling back to the Qing Dynasty, which ruled between 1644 and 1911, it was reported on People's Daily Online.
Their deaths have reignited a fierce debate in China about time travel TV programmes, which were banned by the government last year in a move heavily criticised as a gross over-reaction.
Some shows feature storylines in which women travel back in time and fall in love in the Qing Dynasty after a car crash or being struck by lightning. Sun Yunxiao, deputy director of China Youth and Children Research Center, told People's Daily Online: 'Schoolchildren are rich in curiosity, but poor in judgment.
'I have heard of children jumping from high buildings after watching an actor flying in a magic show.
'This kind of imitative behavior is in the nature of young children, but it's very dangerous. So we should give some sort of warning for children on TV programs.'