A 911 dispatch team in California helped stop a New York woman's suicide attempt earlier this week. While talking to dispatchers, the woman went on Facebook Live and started to cut herself.
The tragedy was averted on Wednesday, when, according to SFGate, "a crisis center in Idaho — where the woman used to live — talked to her early in the morning and were led to believe she was in Alameda County. They called the East Bay dispatch center about 6:30 a.m., said Sgt. Ray Kelly, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office. It turned out the woman was not in California or Idaho, but actually New York."
One dispatcher praised a detective who spoke to her: "He was really smart with about it. It was about 7:40 a.m. here and he wasn't getting anywhere with her. And he said, 'Hey, what time is it?' She goes, 'It's 10:40.'" Then they started to look at the pings they were getting from her phone signal and realized she was in Rockville Centre, Long Island.
"The second time she went live she was actually cutting herself," another dispatcher told KGO. "A couple of us were watching the video trying to freeze frames and describe the vehicle, figure out where she was in her car."
The dispatchers used the pings and Google Maps to figure out where she was and contacted local authorities, who got to her in time. Sgt. Kelly said, "Where once people left suicide notes or messages, law enforcement is now seeing people actually recording their deaths. Obviously that’s disturbing, but in a certain way it can be good because it’s an immediate notification to friends and family that something bad is going on. In this case, we were able to save someone’s life. Maybe it’s a double-edged thing.'
It took weeks for Facebook to remove a 12-year-old girl's December suicide video (she had broadcast it on the social network). This past week, a man in Los Angeles shot himself in his car while on Facebook Live and a Miami teen was allegedly using Facebook Live as she hanged herself with a scarf.
A Facebook spokeswoman "said Facebook aims to interrupt livestreams that go against community standards 'as quickly as possible... We also suggest people contact law enforcement or emergency services themselves if they become aware of something where the authorities can help.'"
If someone you know exhibits warning signs of suicide: do not leave the person alone; remove any firearms, alcohol, drugs or sharp objects that could be used in a suicide attempt; and call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or take the person to an emergency room or seek help from a medical or mental health professional.