#MentalHealthAwarenessMonth has come and gone, but mental health issues remain as present as ever. This article, based on the heroic actions of a group of writers, illustrates the importance of acting quickly when someone’s life is in danger and delineates steps and resources we can use if there is a risk of suicide.
Suicide is no joke. How will you help prevent it?
On Friday nigh,t June 3rd, 2016 (American time) an international group of authors and writers banded together to save a life.
A member of a large international group of writers stumbled across a blog post on WordPress on a blog she followed. The post was a sincere suicide note. The blogger was in the USA, while the writer who found the note was from the UK.
Instead of just turning to something else, or fretting about it helplessly, she decided to do something about it. Unsure of how to do it herself, after trying to report it via WordPress’s sadly lacking reporting system, she turned to the people she knew would help her help the woman in need.
She posted to the 23k+ group of writers at 9:43pm Eastern Standard Time.
‘Help! Someone I follow on WordPress just posted an actual suicide note to their blog. I have no idea how to track them down.
The WordPress reporting system is useless. The page on what to do about threats of suicide just says to comment on the post with the number of the local suicide prevention hotline. I’m pretty sure she’s not reading her comments right now.
Does anyone know who to report this to? I know she’s in the states but I don’t where.
Here’s the post: [redacted]’
Her plea for help was not in vain. By 9:45, a mere 2 minutes after posting, people started working on solving the mystery of who the blogger was and how to get her help as soon as possible.
31 writers, many published authors, worked on the puzzle, giving advice, searching for contact info for the suicidal woman and her friends, family, job, etc. The report came in from someone who had managed contact with one of the woman’s friends that she was alive and receiving help. That was 44 minutes after the initial post. (Others joined the attempt afterwards, before realizing the crisis was over.)
You may have noticed I didn’t mention any names, didn’t give direct quotes besides the initial post. That is because when it comes down to it, this article is not really about the people involved, no matter how amazing what they did (and the fact that they tried at all) was. It is about knowing that you can do it, too.
When you see something like a sincere suicide note from someone you don’t really know (or don’t know at all) online, you CAN help. You CAN potentially save a life. You may not be able to do it alone, and that is okay. It doesn’t mean you have to give up.
Here is a summary of the ideas and actions taken. Remember them, as it could be YOU rescuing someone some day.
1) If on Facebook, Twitter, or other social media, see if there is a way to report it and if so, do it
2) Try to message them if the platform allows it
3) Find the person’s name
a) Look for linked Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, etc accounts attached to or mentioned as being theirs on the page/account/blog
4)Find the person’s general location (probably found on one of the above sites)
5) Get their phone number if possible
6) Call the police in their area (if you are unable to, see if you can get someone to call for you)
If the above fails:
7) Go back to their social media accounts and start sending messages to friends, family, etc.
This story had a happy ending, as much as is possible in a case like this. About 45 minutes after the authors’ quest started, they were informed the woman was being helped.
Just under 2 days later, on Sunday night, more confirmation was received. This time, to end this article, I will give you the quote:
‘Two of her friends messaged me back and confirmed that [redacted] is alive and receiving help. Her friends are all grateful that we went into action. We did indeed help save a life. I love all of you.’
RESOURCES FOR REPORTING SUICIDAL POSTS: