Weekend Shocker Resolved with the Help of Facebook
For the past two nights, one of my best friends completely went off the radar on Facebook. It really had me concerned, because this was not the behavior of the man who was my college roommate, and best friend for some thirty years, ongoing.
He had been posting some questionable, concerning, comments to his timeline, and --- after at least four surprising, and disturbing, posts, one came up at 6:40 a.m. It said “I’m sorry.” In my life, I have worked in mental health, and community outreach for HIV/AIDS education and prevention, and I had interacted with hundreds of people---
some of whom got some really shocking test results, or had notable mental health issues. I had seen depression, suicidal ideation, terror, and fear pretty often. I had come to know the “sign offs”, and hidden meanings of certain statements people make, under duress.
After too much time had passed, we voted that i should call the police department in the state where my friend lived, and request that they go to the house and perform a welfare check on him.
I then alerted two of our classmates from college. I used facebook. One was in Austria, the other in Belgium, and, eventually, a third one, in Washington State. We were instantly able to “ping” each other, in real time, and started a private facebook message thread. We were all disturbed by the lack of communication. We put our heads together to determine next steps, and a plan of action.
We decided as a team, that until we knew what was actually going on, that we would not call the family and panic them unnecessarily. We decided to wait the majority of the day for some response from our friend and colleague. After too much time had passed, we voted that i should call the police department in the state where my friend lived, and request that they go to the house and perform a welfare check on him.
They went to the house, knocked, waited a very long time. The apartment was pitch black, no sound... But they could not, by law, kick the door down because, as the officer on site said to me when he called me from outside my friend’s door--- “People don’t have to open the door it they don’t want to, and they have the right to privacy.” His hands were tied. He politely left.
I messaged her “ She never replied. I reported back to the team, and we decided, especially since the police didn’t find him--- that we’d finally, after some fourteen hours of searching, go to bed, and resume in the morning.
We all checked in to the private chat, rehashed the events of the night before, and I was nominated to contact the family. At least to let them know that we were somewhat concerned, what we had done so far, and what we had learned. I messaged another sister-in-law, a confidante, and a cousin. Shortly thereafter, I got message anfter message, after message, telling me that my Roomie was in bad emotional shape, but somehow, between his “farewell” post, and a chance to do something drastic, he connected with some family in town, and they have been nurturing, and protecting him the entire time.
One sister-in-law wrote: “Hi, Marcinho. I am ********'s sister **** and I wanted to let you know that ******** is fine. I really appreciate your concern and so does ********. I will make sure he gives you a call when he is feeling better. Thank you!”
“Hi, Marcinho. I am ********'s sister **** and I wanted to let you know that ******** is fine. I really appreciate your concern and so does ********. I will make sure he gives you a call when he is feeling better. Thank you!”
Another relative responded: “Hi---Thank you for reaching out!!! I have contacted ***** and ****---They both have been in touch with him and **** feels confident he just prefers to be alone right now and will come around when he is ready. Thank you SO much for your concern---He can certainly be mad if he'd like-But he is lucky to have great friends! Thank you again--***”
My classmates, and I, were extremely blessed that we got favorable responses. What if something horrible did happen, and we just sat back, and did nothing. My friend could have been left there for days or weeks, before anyone acted. If he had chosen suicide, and I did nothing about it, i would bear that forever.
As I told his sister, “I’d rather be wrong, and have him be annoyed with me, than to have been right, and regretful.”
“I’d rather be wrong, and have him be annoyed with me, than to have been right, and regretful.”
He can certainly be mad if he'd like-But he is lucky to have great friends!
I embrace the benefits of social media for things other than posting food porn, and cat videos. It helped me be able to move quickly, efficiently, and intercontinentally, to try to check on one of the most spectacular entertainers God ever placed on this earth.
#technology is our friend! Shouldn’t we take full advantage of the tools available to us? A click, a paste. A screen captured image of the evidence... The incredible power of the internet, and social media, prevented me from having to get on a plane and fly to my friend’s state to do a welfare check of my own.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.
Are You Okay
Better Safe Than Sorry
Checking On A Friend When Worried
Let People Know What Is Going On
Technology Can Save Lives
Too Far Apart
Worried About Someone I Love