Robin Williams tragic suicide reminded me about my brush with someone desiring to take their own life.
Four years ago I was searching the news feed here on facebook and noticed an odd post, from a casual friend that I really didn’t know. He had posted that he was sitting in his home with a loaded shotgun pressed against his chest and waiting to see his daughter.
I read the comment several times, as I wasn’t certain whether this was a real comment and cry for help or rather perverse song lyrics. I had a very strong sense that the words were indeed foreboding. I immediately engaged the fellow in conversation on his post and remarked that nothing is really that bad, asking if he would like me to call him on the phone. He declined.
At the same time I was reaching out to the local suicide hotline in his area of the world. I connected with the supervisor and explained the circumstances. She agreed that I was correct in acting as I had. While on the phone with her, she called the local police department. I provided all of the information I could from his facebook page in order to find his home address. We were successful and the police were dispatched.
All during my conversation with the suicide hotline, I was engaging with the fellow and his friends on facebook encouraging them to remain calm, some through private message.
It was a very tense 52 minutes, but I never let up and eventually spoke with his local police, who told me they gained entrance to his home and found him with a loaded shotgun pressed against his chest and his finger on the trigger. Fortunately, they were able to convince him to surrender the weapon and himself.
I asked where his daughter was during all of this and was chilled at their response. She had committed suicide not long before and he was going to meet her.
At the end of it all, the suicide hotline supervisor said to me, “I know you will understand this, you just performed a mitzvah.” Until that point I was calm, together and focused. After that comment and we ended the call, the tears flowed.
Several weeks later the fellow posted on his page that he was alright thanks to the intervention of a total stranger. And on my birthday I received a facebook message from him which read, “Happy Birthday, Chip. Still here … thank you.” To this day, I believe I still have two or three of his personal friends that reached out to me during and after the crisis, that have remained facebook friends.
Postscript: Received the following message today from one of the fellow’s real world friends which read – “He has a new career now and is fantabulous … He’s a semi driver and happy as all get out with it!”
My message to you all … reach out, be aware, Sometimes, an “I love you” or a hug or even just a phone call can help someone struggling and in need of a bit of positive human interaction. It helps, it really does. <3