MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s known as the place to go online to sell or buy something. But on Tuesday, Craigslist became a place for a young Twin Cities man to plead for help.
Administrators of the website contacted police after they saw a disturbing post that indicated a young man wanted to end his own life.
A worker from Craigslist Law Enforcement contacted St. Paul Police after seeing a post from an east metro man.
The picture showed him holding what looked like a noose, and the words made it clear he was contemplating suicide.
Detectives were able to locate his home address from the IP address. They then then called Maplewood Police.
The officer who went to the home was greeted at the door by a young man. He acknowledged he needed help, but didn’t know where to turn — so he went online.
Maplewood Police say the young man admitted he has used neckties to try to kill himself, and when it didn’t work he put a post on Craigslist hoping someone would try to help him.
The young man agreed to go with the officer to Regions Hospital for evaluation. Dr. Dan Reidenberg is the executive director of SAVE, a suicide prevention and education agency.
“In this particular case we have a success. We have intervention that helped, and today somebody is alive because technology created the opportunity for a life-saving intervention,” Reidenberg said.
For the last few years, Reidenberg has worked with executives from Facebook, Twitter, Google, YouTube and others to develop ways to monitor websites for suicidal thoughts and then create ways to help.
“I know some people worry about the invasion of privacy, but that isn’t what these companies are trying to do,” he said. “What they’re really trying to do is create opportunities for people to connect and to share things.”
Dr. Reidenberg was part of the team that developed Facebook’s new interactive safety tools. If you see a friend’s post that seems suicidal, you can report it to Facebook and then that person’s page gets locked.
“It will lock your site and it will say, ‘So and so is really worried about you. Is there something we can do to help you? Would you like to talk to a friend? Would you like to talk to the Life Line? Would you like some tips on how to deal with this stress?'” Reidenberg said. “So as soon as you click on that, then you’ll be able to re-engage with your Facebook platform.”
He says the point is to let the person know that someone is worried about them.
Reidenberg also says that many people are clearly more comfortable revealing some of their most intimate thoughts on social media than they are in person, even when they’re sharing pain.