Suicidal ideations

Carol

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A close personal friend of mine runs a discussion board that focuses on the discussion of legal matters. She got to know a startlingly mature young man who joined up to discuss the prospects of emancipation. After a harrowing event in the boy's home, he was guided through the emancipation process with a help of a social worker. A judge granted the emancipation, and he moved to a tiny apartment of his own. Despite the horrible situation at home, he expressed regret over not being able to live with his mother anymore but said that he hopes that she would finally get the help she needed.

He worked full time at a grocery store while attending his high school full time. He started up a blog to occasionally write about his journey, expressed with the same startling maturity. The blog sometimes expressed a desire to join the Air Force when finished with high school, and how he was deeply inspired by faith in God.

My friend and I are in the same business networking group. A few of the people there also help my friend on her legal board, and were also acquainted with the emancipated boy. This evening, she went to the online forum and started a topic that said "I'm really scared". Attached was a blog entry.

The boy (now 18 or 19 so not a boy anymore) told a story of financial ruin (car died, no money to fix it, and without it, no way to get to work) and giving up...permanently. She asked us if we thought it meant what we thought it meant. The entry had a chilling finality to it that scared the bejeezus out of me. I went over over to his blog and nearly shrieked out loud when I saw the post before....where he pondered the theological implications of suicide. All of his posts before that were serious and mature, he was not one to throw around emotions to get attention. The blog entries are undated, and the last person from the legal discussion board to talk with him did so on the 15th, and said he seemed OK then.

My friend says she knows the boy's full name and town. A few from the group suggested calling suicide prevention, others have suggested calling the local PD for a welfare check. Last I heard from my friend she said she was going to follow up on those actions and write back when she hears more. We're all hoping for the best, but praying for the worst.

So...now that I have you all depressed (sorry)...I'd like to throw a question out for discussion. What would/could you do if an online friend appears to be in serious trouble?
 

Big Don

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All you can do is offer a shoulder (virtual if needs be). Depression isn't fun.
 

Bruno@MT

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The thing with online friends is that talking and listening are the only things you -can- do. My best online friends are Americans. Living on the other side of the globe makes anything but that kinda impractical.

Then again in real life, talking and especially listening are often very valuable. By listening, people have the opportunity to talk themselves through everything that is going on, and figure out how to deal with it.

In the end, people will do what they will do, and it is not always within our powers to do anything about it.
 

Jade Tigress

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This is a tough one Carol. Has anyone tried to contact him personally or has all interaction been through the board? If it's all been through the board then depression could cause him to cease posting.

If it's been tried to contact him through private means, and been unsuccessful, a call to local police for a welfare check would be my next move.

The scary thing about people with suicidal ideations is they often seem *fine* to those around them. It sometimes takes a very observant friend to pick up that things may not really be.

Please keep us posted.
 
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Carol

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This is a tough one Carol. Has anyone tried to contact him personally or has all interaction been through the board? If it's all been through the board then depression could cause him to cease posting.

If it's been tried to contact him through private means, and been unsuccessful, a call to local police for a welfare check would be my next move.

The scary thing about people with suicidal ideations is they often seem *fine* to those around them. It sometimes takes a very observant friend to pick up that things may not really be.

Please keep us posted.

It was a private contact. According to my friend, the boy posted on the legal board, but he seemed to prefer writing in his blog.

The last person to talk with him contacted him personally on the 15th. I don't know if it was a phone call or an e-mail but it was definitely a personal interaction and not just a public post or a blog comment.

I checked the networking board earlier this morning and saw that someone else that knew was going to try contacting him and/or the police in the area. So I guess now there is nothing more to do than wait until someone can post an update.

This is heartbreaking.
 

Phoenix44

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In this situation I think the best thing would be for the boards Admin to try to contact the individual. And yes I think a call to the police or EMS would be reasonable, too.

In a less urgent situation, I think it's helpful to look up local (to that person) resources the person could contact on his/her own.
 

bluekey88

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Let me start off by sayuing I am replying in more of a professional capacity here. Do yourself a favor and google the term QPR by DR. Quinnett.

QPR stands for Question, Persuade, Refer. It is a suicide intervention model based of of CPR. It is designed for normal (as in non-mental health professionals) to be able to intervene if they suspect someone is suicidal.

I'm a trainer at my job for this...as well as being a person that folks get referred to should they in fact be suicidal.

Anyway, the crux of the program is to get over one's fear of facing someone who is possibly suicidal and simply ask the important question..."Are you thinking of killing/harming yourself?"

It's a scary questyion ot ask...but once asked can definitely clear the air. Asking th equestion will not trigger someone to suicide (most people are sucidal beacuase they are in intesne emotional pain, see no other alternatives and have themselves cutoff from others) The simple act of asking that question and establishing that connection with another is oftne enough to save a life. For those interested, I can go more into the research supporting that.

Once the question has been asked, if the person answers in the affirnmative, you the try to persuade them to seek help. We persuade people to do things for us all the time. In this case, we are limited because the relationship is a distance one and we cannot do more than email/text/etc. to make sure the person actually seeks assistance. However, I've done it before amd would do so again.

At that point, the referal means sending the eprsuaded individual in the direction of help (suicide hotline, therapist, emergency room, etc.)

Bottom line is that the most improtant thing is to ask that improtant question...the rest can then be sorted with some compassion and common sense.

Hopefully this makes sense and is helpful.

Peace,
Erik
 
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Carol

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In this situation I think the best thing would be for the boards Admin to try to contact the individual. And yes I think a call to the police or EMS would be reasonable, too.

In a less urgent situation, I think it's helpful to look up local (to that person) resources the person could contact on his/her own.

Thanks :asian:

My friend (the board's admin) posted to the networking group this morning. Last night she tried his last known e-mail address and last known phone number. No response. Tried again this morning. No reponse.

It is not clear where he lives. His apartment was in one town, but he mentioned he was losing that place and sleeping on the couch of a friend in another town. His mom is in a third town, and his employment was in a fourth town. She has put together as much info as she could about him and plans to call the state police for a welfare check.
 
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Carol

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Hopefully this makes sense and is helpful.

Peace,
Erik

Erik that is very helpful. I am going to send that to my friend right away. I think that would be very helpful if she actually reaches the young man. :asian:
 

Live True

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Great Info, Eric, thank you for posting! You never know when this informaiton might be useful.

Carol, you, your friend, and this young man are certainly in my thoughts. I hope things turn out well. Please let us know what happens!

Thanks for bringing up this subject. It's not a fun subject, but it does come up, and now those of us reading have some ideas on how to deal wtih it. Thank you.
 

Flea

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I sent you a PM.



:angel:
 

jks9199

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This is a really tough issue. Any time you believe someone may be suicidal, don't be afraid to ask them "are you thinking about hurting or killing yourself?" You won't put the idea in their head; it's either already there or it's not going to be.

If they respond in any way affirmatively (remember, communication is often non-verbal; if the non-verbal isn't in sync with the words and actions, take it as a YES!), you need to try to give them a hook or something to hold onto while you get them lined up with help.

On-line relationships become very complicated because we often feel we know each other very well -- but there are huge gaps, assumptions, and mis-assumptions in that knowledge. (Yes, they're there in person too -- but not as obviously.) I would suggest contacting a suicide help line; they may be able to offer better guidance.

If you know the address, you can contact the appropriate law enforcement authorities -- but in all honesty, they're not going to dig very deeply unless there's an obvious reason to. These things just never really "read" as convincing... It's third party information, where the officers can't even really contact the third party very effectively.

There's no easy answer; a lot depends on the actual relationship between the people more than the nature of it. If you know the person, and they are worrying you -- take action. IF you're only an on-line acquaintance, that may just be words of support. If you've got a more personal relationship, it might be a phone call. Depending on where you are relative to each other and how well you know each other -- maybe you should make a house call, or invite them to meet up somewhere...
 
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Carol

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I have an update, and it essentially mirrors what JKS has said.

My friend called the PD in the boy's last known town. They said that neither they, or the state PD, would be able to run a welfare check unless it was requested by another LEO. They suggested my friend could call her local PD in Mass. and explain the situation. If the Mass PD called the remote PD with the request, then they would send out a cruiser.

I don't think she has done this yet. I suspect she may not until she has more concrete information. Unfortunately the boy lives outside New England in a rural part of the country. Our local business network can't reach it and our national network doesn't have a presence in the area.

However, a few people from our national networking group are going to see if they can somehow make contact with someone in his area. Its a needle in a haystack try. Many grocery stores are large corporations with EAPs, on the off chance that someone can reach him through professional networking, perhaps they can encourage him to use the benefit that is there for just such emergencies (and/or seek medical help if he is ill).

However, I don't think anyone is expecting this attempt to be successful. The odds are too slim.

The discussion on the New England business board had a feeling of resignation. The folks that have talked live with the boy in the past are keeping their cell phones at the ready. Other than that, I don't think there is anything we can do but wait and hope.

However, if anyone has any more thoughts or ideas to share about the subject in general, please share them. I have learned a lot from this thread today, and I'm always up for learning more. :asian:
 

Omar B

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It's a crap situation to be in where it's someone you "know" online because you trule don't know the person. You may talk up a storm online and share lots in common, but till you can hang out at their house and call up their mom on a Sunday to say hello i find it pretty tough.

One can only hope that he shared his thoughts with someone he actually knows so they can look in on him.
 

jks9199

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Carol,
That's about all you can do. There's not much more you could do even if he were right across the street from you.

I've got the majority of the coursework for psych degree; it doesn't make me a psychologist, let alone a psychiatrist, but it does let me speak intelligibly with the pros when I have to deal with them. On top of that, I've been trained to teach police suicide awareness. And I still have plenty of stories of taking someone to the mental health assessment clinic who I would swear needed to be hospitalized, and having them kick us both out the door. The standards can be quite high... and pretty easy to avoid saying enough to be hospitalized.

You might try contacting a suicide hotline; they may be able to get help and be taken more seriously than a random out-of-state caller. You might also check in his community for the local equivalent of the community mental health services board; they may have emergency services and may be able to look into getting the kid some help.

Good luck -- but don't put too much of your own energy into this situation. Recognize the limits of what you can do, and accept them.
 

bluekey88

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Carol, all you can do is all you can do...hopefully this guy will get the help he needs. You've certainly done more than many. I know it's tough///but thanks for your conmpassion and caring.

Peace,
Erik
 
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Carol

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There is good news.

My friend just IM'ed me.

He has had something big happen. I don't know what it is. I don't know if it is good or bad or indifferent.

But, he knows that people are reaching out to him, and tonight he e-mailed someone that works for my friend's board to say that he is OK. I don't know if he is safe, but at least for the moment, he is OK.
 

thardey

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I'm so glad to hear that.
I was once on the phone with a friend of mine who started talking about "leaving town" and not coming back. I felt like I was glued to the phone, because I couldn't hang up and drive over there, or call anybody else. You're just in it, and winging it the best you can. He made it through okay, once he got "caught" and started talking about it.

The other guys are right, if you can ask him straight out, not using code words, but actually using terms like "killing yourself" or "suicide."

But, on the other hand, I was working with this other guy who was struggling, but seemed at peace with things, then out of nowhere he OD'ed on pain killers. Fortunately he survived, but it took everybody by surprise, even people who had been talking to him 30 mins. before.

You do what you can, but none of us really have "Power" to make anybody else do anything. We've all got to make our own decisions.

Fortunately, I think it is a good sign that he is talking and asking about this stuff, that probably means he is asking for help. I pray that the right people can get the right help to him.
 
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Carol

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Thank you for your prayers, Thardey, I will be joining you in saying them....and thanks to all of you for all your input and good wishes.

My friend has run an HR consulting firm for over 20 years as her "real" job. The woman that the boy reached out to is also a very experienced HR professional. I know both of these ladies personally, and can attest that both very experienced at dealing with people of many generations that are in critical situations.

I don't know how this story will end, but am taking some comfort in knowing that at least some the people he trusts to contact are people that have helped others on their way before.
 

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That's really excellent news...the fact that he is staying connected with others is a good sign. Having an emotional connection with another person (not just being alone in a crowd) is one of the greatest protective factors with suicide.

True story:
the San Francisco Bay Bridge is a real magnet for people wishing to commit suicide. Something about its prominence I guess. It takes something like 3 to 5 seconds to hit the water after jumping. Most folks die...but every once in awhile someone lives. Not once that nayone knows of has a person that failed to kill themselves haul themselves out of the w2ater go back onto the bridge and try again.

Noting this, a researcher interviewed eight survivors that jumped from the bridge. Their stories all had the same similarities. All 8 people were incredibly depressed and saw no way out of their pain. All 8 people had the same thought once they jjuped...it was "This was a mistake. I want to live."

Based on this the researcher came up with an intervention. He arranged to have all the people who work on and around the bridge trained to ask people who were kind of lingering around the bridge or who looked distraught or whatnot if everything was ok and could they help. Just by asking that simple wuestion...amking that simple connection, the incidents of attmepted suicides on the bridge decreased by something like 40% (I don't have the article in front of me so the exact stat escapes me)...which is not just significant but a phenomenal rate of reduction.

Peace,
Erik
 

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