While the world was celebrating the arrival of a baby giraffe, a woman from Pennsylvania decided to end her life.
At 11:30 p.m. on Sunday, a member of a Facebook group dedicated to April the giraffe posted a comment, stating she was feeling alone and suicidal.
The lady, reportedly in her 50s, said she was having a rough time, as she was prevented from seeing her infant grandson. A flurry of comments followed, reassuring the lady that all will be well.
Meanwhile, the admins of “April Giraffe Friends,” who were alerted to the post, decided to take matters into their own hands. They sent her a text on Facebook Messenger. However, the lady did not respond.
Concerned, the admins managed to pull up the woman’s details from her Facebook page and alerted the police.
The cops at Darby Police Department, Pennsylvania, went to the lady’s last known address, but she wasn’t around. After a couple of hours, the police managed to get in touch with her son and his family, who were living in a different jurisdiction.
Speaking to the Inquisitr, on condition of anonymity, the admin who alerted the cops said, “The police got back to me later. The lady wasn’t staying at her son’s place, but the family knew where she was at and they were very concerned about her. She is fine now.”
“What I found strange was the lady had posted many times within that evening—all happy things and then suddenly, this post,” said the admin, who mostly saw posts related to April and the calf.
For Carla Pelham, the chief admin of April Giraffe Friends group, tackling the situation was quite challenging.
“I felt that we had a duty of care to this person. We needed to make sure she was fine. There was no way we could ignore someone who was brave enough to reach out. The police were amazing and told us we had done the right thing and, if we experienced this again, we must report it. They even gave us an update saying that contact was made with the lady. No further details were released to us due to privacy laws,” she said.
Shedding light on people who post suicidal remarks on social media, Prof Jonathan J. Detrixhe, clinical supervisor and adjunct professor at Long Island University, said, “People who post their suicidal intentions to strangers, rather than friends and family members, may have no one else to turn to for an intervention — or they may be looking for a judgement-free place to discuss their interest in suicide.”
But social media isn’t the place for that sort of in-depth sharing of complicated feelings, he said.
“In my experience with suicidal patients, the situation needs to be directed offline. Friends and family need to respond directly, in person or by phone. The goal would be to validate the person’s feelings,” he said.
It’s not just the old people who display suicidal tendencies online.
According to Angela Robinson Giuffra, a licensed clinical social worker, even teens and young adults take to social media to express their frustration or thoughts of suicide. “As an adolescent and young adult specialist, I have seen the isolating effects of social media use on this population. Depressed, anxious young people who are withdrawn and not engaged in the outside world take to the internet. They use Youtube for entertainment and chat rooms for supports groups for mental health disorders, etc. They come to see the internet as their connection to the outside world,” she said.
In an effort to help people with suicidal tendencies, Facebook recently launched a new set of tools.
“When someone is thinking of suicide or hurting themselves, we already have tools that let friends reach out directly or report a post to us so we can help. But with billions of posts, comments and messages every day, we’re limited by what people actually report to us. As a result, there have been terribly tragic events — including suicides, some live streamed — that might have been prevented if someone had realized what was happening earlier,” said Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder and CEO.
Facebook has redesigned its suicide prevention tools and integrated them into Live video. “People can now reach out to someone directly or report the stream, and the person streaming can contact a friend or a helpline. We’re giving people the ability to chat directly with someone from organizations like Crisis Text Line, Lifeline, and the National Eating Disorder Association,” Zuckerberg said.
[Featured Image by Marjan Apostolovic/Shutterstock]