Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Are you okay?

About a week ago a follower of mine on twitter asked me what I thought about suicide. She said that the church considered it a sin and wondered what I thought as an atheist. 

I said that no matter how bad things seem, you never know what's around the corner. You never know when an opportunity is going to come along or a medical breakthrough might happen. 

We had a long chat and she explained all the things she was having a hard time dealing with. It was heartbreaking and I really felt for her. 

I could see from her twitter bio that she was in Johannesburg so I looked up a counselling service there and sent her the link and asked her to please contact them and let me know how it went. She said she would. I wanted to help more, but as I told her, I'm simply not equipped to deal with someone having these thoughts. 

I checked back yesterday and saw that she hadn't tweeted since the day after our conversation. Her last tweet was a reply to someone who'd tweeted about suicide. She replied saying that she was going to do it that day but her mother was home from work she she'd have to wait. Then nothing. 

I sent her a message to ask if she was okay, and got no answer. I found her on Facebook and sent her a message and got no answer. 

I searched the internet but found nothing. I searched twitter and found that someone had tweeted her 4 hours earlier telling her to RIP and saying she was gone too soon. 

This made my heart sink. I discussed this with my girlfriend and a friend online and we all agreed, it wasn't good and that, if I could word it nicely, I should tweet to the person who'd sent the RIP message. I tweeted to this person and asked what, if anything, had happened. She replied and said the girl in question had passed away in a car accident on Saturday. 

I thanked her for answering. 

I don't think she told me the truth. I think the girl took her own life and her friend was keeping the truth of it to herself - which is fair enough. Or perhaps she didn't know the truth. Perhaps it was a deliberate collision rather than an accident. I'll never know.

The girl was someone I didn't speak to regularly and was on another continent, and in a different timezone so I know there was nothing more I could do. I sent her help and asked her to get back to me but she had obviously reached the point where she thought she had no other options. 

It's a sad story and one that I can't help could have been prevented if this girl was looked after, cared for, and had someone to ask her if she was okay. Of course I don't know if this is the case, but...who knows? 

As yesterday was world suicide prevention day, I ask you this - please, if you have even the slightest hint, an inclination, a gut feel about someone, please ask them if they're okay and let them know, if they need it, help is available.


  1. I have detected that type of situations a tried to help, it's so true, maybe another person will help to the person in need, but what is anybody else answer the call? Even a few words can change an outcome.

  2. This happens a lot on twitter - lots of people reach out. And it is not always nearly as clear, either. So, you try and help as best as you can. I think you did as much as you possibly could.

  3. Had a similar situation early on in my twitter life.
    Talked to a gentleman who lived in Saudi Arabia who was an atheist but for obvious reasons couldn't talk about it freely. This drained his will to live and hope for the future
    I think I did all I could, but his account went silent and it pains me to know his experience isn't unique

  4. Face these thoughts everyday for years but still here but also still no further towards a solution to fix the cause (not for the want of trying) it's quite odd but the very reason you state is the exact reason i carry on "you never know what's round the corner" i would class my self as a optimist and always try and see the best in others. here comes the "but" from my own experience at the point of most risk the individual is not in control of their own actions due most likely to depression and it is this factor that is the scary part because at any point i myself may end my life the same way.

  5. Donovan, I feel deeply for you in this situation, as well as for the friends and family of the person involved. I'm a sufferer of anxiety and depression and someone who has come very close to that ultimate step.
    I can tell you that your sentiments are perfectly understandable, logical and compassionate. Sadly, this approach is unlikely to make a difference.
    Here's a link to another blog that pretty well nails my thoughts on this tragic topic: