Dealing with a suicidal person from overseas on Facebook

I belong to a forum about people going through difficult things and we had one person on the forum who said she was going to commit suicide today on a Facebook post.

My Suicide Prevention Course ‘kicked in’. Generally when they give you a ‘date’ or if you find out when, you go into emergency mode. However, the online system where Facebook is supposed to help that person didn’t appear ‘to work’. Facebook also didn’t bother to reply on on Twitter.

In the end, myself and a few others messaged her, and I encouraged her to book an appointment with the GP, let us know when she had done this, and said that we are here for her. We were lucky that Facebook showed us roughly where she was and she had an unusual name.

In the meantime, I also contacted the South African police station near her (a very expensive mobile phone call from the UK) and told them what happened. I said I was calling from the UK and they ‘didn’t fuss about the paperwork like they do in the UK’ but just gone on with it.

I will never know if they contacted the person, as maybe it is hard to get the IP address from Facebook in time but I am glad I did it. One person contacted one of their relatives and asked them to check she was ok. Sometimes they were estranged, but I think sometimes this has to be done if the police find it hard to get hold of the suicidal person. The moderator was a bit slow at first but once she knew what was happening went into action.

We tried to get hold of her, keep her talking on the forum although at some point she went missing online for a while.

However, it turns out, after two hours, she said to the moderator that she felt ‘ok’ and was really amazed ‘that people online cared for her’ and provided telephone helplines etc.

Sometimes something simple like talking and caring can help people get past that suicidal feeling and we have to remember to say to the suicidal person ‘that the feeling is only temporary’.

World Crisis Hotlines https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_suicide_crisis_lines

Use Google Maps to find a police station round the world: https://www.google.co.uk/maps

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