AskMe is not a suicide prevention hotline March 3, 2007 11:32 PM   Subscribe

This potential suicide question concerns me as it has anyone who read the thread. I don't know what follow up is needed, but perhaps more visibility here will offer some direction?
posted by Burhanistan to Etiquette/Policy at 11:32 PM (37 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

Sorry, it just frustrates me and I'm up later than I should be because of this. Can one of the three admins email him (his email isn't in profile) with a gentle "are you ok" type question?
posted by Burhanistan at 11:34 PM on March 3, 2007


I think a lot of people have given him some good advice by telling him to seek help and to call a suicide prevention hotline. But it also seems clear because of the fact that he even took the time to ask the question that he is looking specifically in this arena for help. So it would seem that some personal communication from MeFi users in particular and maybe even admins especially would be an enormous help to him.
posted by inconsequentialist at 11:56 PM on March 3, 2007


I think he'll be okay. I think we'll be of some help. All is as right and good as it can be, under the circumstances.
posted by blasdelf at 1:28 AM on March 4, 2007


I followed up and e-mailed him about two minutes after I responded to his post, and I noticed he edited his profile to delete his address about 5 minutes later. I'm no Sherlock but I think this is good---maybe he is using a computer shared by others and does not want them to know what he's posted on the web? Which implies that he's thinking about sticking around for a while?
I know I'm grasping at straws here.
Thoughts?
posted by Dizzy at 7:05 AM on March 4, 2007


It's very frustrating and worrying. I let Matt know when I saw it; there's really not much we can do beyond being aware of it, unfortunately. The thread has been very good, I think, and essentially we're left to hope that he reads it (and, perhaps, responds).
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:06 AM on March 4, 2007


On "24" wouldn't Jack Bauer put a trace on his IP address and call in a squad?

Really, if there really is concern that he's going to kill himself I think you admins have an obligation to attempt something more than sit back and watch. At LEAST send him an email, or something???
posted by matty at 7:18 AM on March 4, 2007


Ummm... now I have to ponder if I think Matt, Jess, and Cortex are as cool as Jack Bauer. Crap.
posted by matty at 7:20 AM on March 4, 2007


maybe Internet advice from strangers is not a valid substitute for urgent medical care?

just maybe, it's not that I'm positive about this.
posted by matteo at 7:21 AM on March 4, 2007


matty: I've sent him an email, but anything Bauer-ish or beyond is beyond both my technical and counseling skillsets. Jeff is hopefully doing okay; hopefully we'll hear from him again; but mefi doesn't require a SSN and mailing address to register.

I'm hoping that the cogent presentation of his post means he's less on-edge and more really-depressed, but there's no way to tell and it's down to him to let us know.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:13 AM on March 4, 2007


Good words, cortex. Best to sit tight, hope for the best, give him a chance to respond when he's ready.
I'm gratified by everyone's kindness.
posted by Dizzy at 9:11 AM on March 4, 2007


Hate to be that guy, but - doesn't this have a precedent in which (IIRC) the post was pulled, and Matt contacted some authority on the poster's behalf?

I can't remember the exact wording of that post, but the bit along the lines of "wishing only for death" to me clearly indicates that the poster is suicidal.

Does this imply a change in policy?
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 9:27 AM on March 4, 2007


Pretty much my whole family lives in Birmingham, and we're no stranger to suicidal tendencies, nor to survival. Plus, we're all Episcopalian or formerly so, and I and my baby brother are gay. If he had an email address listed, I would totally hook him up with some new friends.
posted by owhydididoit at 9:44 AM on March 4, 2007 [2 favorites]


jefficator is harcore.
posted by quonsar at 9:51 AM on March 4, 2007


Harcore? What is that? Music for standup prop comedians? Or was that hardyharcore?
posted by loquacious at 9:59 AM on March 4, 2007


loquacious, quonsar is referencing this.
posted by rocketman at 10:18 AM on March 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


His e-mail address was listed in his profile the first time I checked, just before I wrote my comment (the second in the AskMeFi thread). Then I checked it again a few minutes later, and his profile had changed to what it is now. IIRC, his location wasn't listed before, either.

Now, I actually happen to remember his e-mail address from when I saw it last night, but the question is, should I post it? I mean, don't I have to assume that he removed it from his profile because he didn't want it displayed? But it was there before, so it's not as though it's private knowledge, and he is, obviously, in great need of sympathetic voices.

I will now send him an e-mail asking if it's OK.
posted by cerebus19 at 10:33 AM on March 4, 2007


but the question is, should I post it?

Good lord, no.
posted by mediareport at 10:41 AM on March 4, 2007


I sent him a quick e-mail expressing my concern for his welfare, and pointing out that the fact that so many total strangers are concerned for his well-being might give him some hope. I also asked him if he would mind if I posted his e-mail address.

I'll be sure to let people here know if/when I hear back from him.
posted by cerebus19 at 10:48 AM on March 4, 2007


cerebus19, read all the comments in this thread.
posted by peacay at 11:27 AM on March 4, 2007


jesus, quonsar. I never heard of that story. From the IRC log:

"[04:22] [phalaris] he knows he's attempting suicide for the umpteenth time
[04:22] [Smoke2k] lol"


I am curious if there's any legal liability here? I'm not finding any precedent on the google this morning, maybe a comment from a lawyer or mental health professional would be helpful. A person answering a suicide prevention hotline is not obligated to trace the line and call the police, but if a person tells their doctor they're suicidal, they can be held against their will for safety and failure to do so may be considered negligent.

The episode quonsar referenced is like the opposite response jefficator got from the MetaFilter community. Once again, I am blown away by the intelligence, sensitivity, and compassion of this place.

MetaFilter: Intelligence, sensitivity, and compassion
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 11:27 AM on March 4, 2007


loquacious, quonsar is referencing this.

To be fair, "harcore" occurs nowhere in the linked text.
posted by languagehat at 11:40 AM on March 4, 2007


Look, you can be suicidal without wanting to kill yourself. Losing a loved one can take you to that brink and yet you know that offing yourself would do that to other people and that is the last thing you would want to do.

Back in my bunnyfire days I was in the process of losing a friend to cancer plus I was trying to get stable on meds. During that time I was definitely suicidal to the point of not even being able to imagine heaven as a happy place. As you can see I'm still here, and NOT suicidal and NOT unhappy.

The fact that the poster is asking for reading material makes me think he is fighting back his demons rather than indulging them.
posted by konolia at 1:24 PM on March 4, 2007 [2 favorites]


Just noticed that the "suicide" tag has disappeared from the post. I can only think that's a good sign.
posted by cerebus19 at 1:37 PM on March 4, 2007


but the question is, should I post it?

No, you shouldn't. He took it down for a reason. I didn't realize he used to list it. It would appear that he removed it in some conjunction with this AskMe post. So, he doesn't want people e-mailing him. That's understandable.
posted by owhydididoit at 1:52 PM on March 4, 2007


I won't post his email address until and unless he responds to my e-mail and says it's OK.
posted by cerebus19 at 2:09 PM on March 4, 2007


loquacious, quonsar is referencing this.

Thank you for totally ruining my lame music joke, poindexter.
posted by loquacious at 2:43 PM on March 4, 2007


To be fair, "harcore" occurs nowhere in the linked text.

Pnutbot: languagehat is hardcore
posted by quonsar at 3:52 PM on March 4, 2007


I won't post his email address until and unless he responds to my e-mail and says it's OK.

?! if it were okay with him, he would have left it in the profile, which at least is only available to other members, not the whole interweb. It is not so hard to understand that he may not want 80 well meaning but basically clueless strangers sending him hallmark cards when he's dealing with very real and very personal pain.

He does not just need cheering up from nice folks. And I don't think he needs medical intervention necessarily either. He has been dealt a very rough blow and it is completely and utterly normal to feel lost and hopeless in the aftermath. He is asking for some of the store of human knowledge that has helped people get through these parts of life in the past. Prozac is not the only answer - it was supposedly meant to be for cases of "chemical imbalance". Grief is not a chemical imbalance.
posted by mdn at 4:59 PM on March 4, 2007


That Brandon Vedas thing reminds me of Kitty Genovese and the bystander effect.
posted by IndigoRain at 6:15 PM on March 4, 2007


I'll just second mdn's point; cerebus19, even asking to post his email seems creepy and off-target.
posted by mediareport at 7:00 PM on March 4, 2007


Jeez, the guy asked if he should post it, people said no, and he didn't. Now we're going to kick him for even asking?
posted by Mid at 8:02 PM on March 4, 2007


Thanks for posting that here, Burhanistan. I might have missed it otherwise.
posted by breezeway at 9:04 PM on March 4, 2007


Just noticed that the "suicide" tag has disappeared from the post.

Ok, great. Apparently he's gonna take care of himself.

Now that is out of the way let me say; there's a ton of life-experience in that thread, a lot of it very well formulated.
Impressive reading. Tx people.
posted by jouke at 9:37 PM on March 4, 2007


Thank you for totally ruining my lame music joke, poindexter.

It needed to happen.
posted by rocketman at 5:43 AM on March 5, 2007


Now we're going to kick him for even asking?

No one's kicking, just pointing out that it's very strange to ignore someone taking down their email address to ask them if you can publicly post it anyway. Kind of a weird reaction to someone deciding they want to be a bit more anonymous, no? And maybe even a chance for cerebus19 to rethink the way he responds to suicide questions.
posted by mediareport at 7:49 AM on March 5, 2007


it's very strange to ignore someone taking down their email address to ask them if you can publicly post it anyway

Under the circumstances, I wouldn't say that's a strange impulse at all. I agree with the decision not to post the email address, but privacy rules tend to fly out the window when someone's life seems to be at immediate risk.

Furthermore, when you're as far down in the dark as the original poster seems to be, sometimes you need people to push their way into your life to help. In my darkest moments I refused help from my friends until they really pushed, even though I desperately needed them. Depression really messes up your sense of what's best for you (obviously), so having other people take the initiative to help can be really important. I can easily imagine taking down my email address in such circumstances, but being very grateful to someone who asked whether they could repost it.

So, no more kicking, chastising, second-guessing. The decision has been made, and we're all just trying to help.
posted by vytae at 2:00 PM on March 5, 2007


Just so everyone knows, jeff has responded over in his original AskMeFi post.
Check it out!
posted by Dizzy at 8:01 PM on March 5, 2007


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