It was an emotional day yesterday. I didn’t want to talk about the effect it was having on me, because, well, who cares, and it’s personal, but it was definitely taking a toll.
I went on Twitter at the end of the day, and was just, I don’t know, blathering a bit, nothing meaningful (I don’t find Twitter a useful forum for meaningful stuff as a rule), when a reader posted that she was contemplating suicide.
Not tomorrow, but that same night. She said something about how it was entirely her fault and she can’t wait any longer.
I don’t use the word ‘trigger’ a lot, and not at all in public, not in the way it is used sometimes here on Tumblr. But my heart rate and breathing went through the roof and I nearly went into a panic.
First, I volunteered for many years at crisis centers. I’ve HAD those kinds of phone calls, where you don’t know if you mess up, if the other person will be alive when you hang up.
Second, I’ve had READERS say these things about wanting to harm themselves or commit suicide. It’s not common but it’s happened. For whatever reason, they didn’t feel they had anyone else to turn to.
And third, some of you may have seen them, there’s been a little explosion of posts on comicsecrets and elsewhere that people have actually said that comics I’ve written kept them from harming themselves. So I’m already very…let’s say my empathy is on high and I’m edgy about this topic.
But it’s been a while since the Crisis Center training and I forgot it all and just started begging her not to do this, not to hurt herself.
She sent another message, similar to the first. I sent her a direct message again begging her just to stop, to take a moment and think. I admit it, by this point, I’m panicked. I don’t have her contact info, I am trying to think of stall tactics, trying to think if Twitter can help with info, trying to decide if retweeting will bring in some friends of hers, holy shit, I was freaking out. It was just awful and WAY too similar, like pstd. I’m not saying this is about me, just saying I was not at 100% by any means.
So she sends a DM back, and…
…it’s an ad for some video game.
This is someone I knew, as a reader, who had reached out to me for help in the past and that I have tried to help, and this whole suicide thing is some viral nightmare to get people to DM so they can send advertisements. I guess it’s called an ARG, which I admit I’d never heard of til last night.
I don’t want to come down to hard on this young woman. I don’t want to make her feel bad.
But that was one of the meanest things I’ve experienced online. To say that to people who may have actually BEEN the product of a family with suicide in it, or may have survived suicide, or thought about suicide…
…to send an AD for a VIDEO GAME?
It’s some sort of complicated role-playing things, but it’s indistinguishable in tone from how people often talk when they are confused and ready to harm themselves. It felt like I was right back there trying to help someone not kill themselves.
I don’t mind being hoaxed, I don’t care if I looked silly.
But holy shit, what happens if someone genuinely needs help next time and people just assume it’s an ad, long enough to delay helping that person?
It’s inhumane. I was awake all night trying to understand who would come up with an idea like that.
Sorry, just had to talk that out. But if you see someone participating in something like this, for God’s sake, talk them out of it. Someone’s going to suffer every time it happens, or WORSE.
A very, very rough night.