Monday, January 10, 2011

In a Heartbeat

This morning I was faced, for the third time, with reading ominous words of farewell from someone online. And for the third time I felt my limbs go cold and my eyes burn. In all of the cases, I had no direct way of contacting the person. One was a distant relative who said her goodbyes on her Facebook wall and then went silent. I called people who were closer to her and they found her to be fine. A bit groggy from the night before, feeling a bit silly, but fine. She removed the post right away.

The second was someone I heard about on Twitter. Others were asking for help in contacting this woman in the States who had written that she was done with this world and for someone to please take care of her husband. I was vaulted into action. I found her on Facebook and started to frantically search through her friends until finally I found a young man with her last name. I messaged him. Incredibly he messaged me back, at first saying his mother wasn't answering the phone. And then, that he had reached her and she was okay. Just sad about her life.

What happened next on Twitter goes beyond schoolyard bullying. This woman was chastised by so many for "scaring them", for the "attention grab" and other ridiculous comments. One woman claimed she had been up since 2 AM worrying and she was 5 months pregnant. She felt cheated and lied to. Why, because the woman didn't end up killing herself?

When someone says online that they are done with this world, they are reaching out. How horrible that we would make such a moment about ourselves.

Then there was today. I know and like this woman. So when someone on Twitter asked for any update on her, the alarm bells went off. Her last tweet was much like what the other two had said. My head silently screamed "NO!" and there was a flurry of activity with others, trying to find out if anyone had or could contact her.

I had only a business number and there was no response. I called the police. I had no address so they said they would have my local police come over and start an investigation. I said I understood procedure but I was worried about my friend. Frantically, as the police waited on the phone, I searched for an address. It was the wrong one. The police entered the wrong home and then informed the wrong husband that his wife was suicidal. Fuck.

Then an online friend gave me the proper address and I called the police back.

The woman is fine. As fine as you be when you were in such a state that you told the world that you were done with it. I'm not fine. I'm drained, I'm sad that I wasn't able to handle this effectively and that it created trauma for some.

Would I do it again? In a heartbeat.


  1. Each and every one of us is lucky to have you as a friend!

  2. Let me get this didn't wait for the last person to call you back? Maybe she didn't hear the phone..was running errands..gone for a walk..whatever.So you called the police & gave them the wrong information..they broke into the wrong home & upset their life? Wow!!

    As a social worker I would never have called the police just because of something someone had said online. Words can be taken different can't read emotion online.You continue calling that person until you get them on the phone. Drive to their house and pound on the door if you are that concerned.

    Such a waste of taxpayers money & time that those officers could have spent on a REAL emergency!

    You say you were concerned about these people yet you decided to blog about them. If someone who "supposedly" cared about me blogged about me behind my back I would not be too happy & I am sure these people are not.