Finally a story about social media and suicide that revolves around prevention
and not cause.
Police intercepted a teenager who posted a suicide threat on Facebook by reaching out to him on the social network, reports NBC News.
After the suicidal teenager posted “I am thinking about jumping” alongside photos of the George Washington Bridge on Tuesday afternoon, a concerned friend contacted the police. (The New York-New Jersey bridge is infamous for suicide attempts, with 43 in 2012 alone.)
The Port Authority Police Department’s Lt. Thomas Michaels and Sgt. Nadine Rhem found the teen’s profile and reached out with a plea to call their precinct, while also distributing his Facebook photos to officers patrolling the bridge.
Amazingly, the teen, riding on a public bus nearby, called the police department two hours after the Facebook response was sent.
“I picked up and heard it was him and I almost fell out of my chair,” Michaels told NBC News.
Michaels and the teen spoke for about 10 minutes and they arranged to have police meet the bus at the next stop. The 18-year-old volunteered to be taken to a hospital for evaluation.
Although the police often use social media to verify threats and gather background information, this was the first time the precinct had ever used it to reach out to someone and save them.
In other instances of social media preventing suicide, Facebook itself partners with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to help concerned users report threats they see online. Reddit’s Suicide Watch sub-Reddit also tries to help prevent people from killing themselves, with predictably mixed results.
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