Suicide Threats Online

I’m a member of a community forum for women who are pregnant/trying to get pregnant/mothers. We compare experiences, ask questions, bitch about our husbands, and talk about food cravings. Sometimes it breaks out into horrible arguments and fights. It’s a bunch of hormonal women! Of course it’s going to get rough sometimes!

But last night was different. I found a post in the community titled “Sorry.” I clicked on it and the text said “I’m sorry I asked. I’ll never ask again.” I did some further reading to find out what that was about, thinking “oh, someone got her panties in a twist over something one of the snarky ladies said.” Turns out, this woman had been asking us, her fellow forum members, to donate money to her because she couldn’t afford maternity clothes. Some women had responded to her by saying she should go to goodwill, reach out to friends. Other women, the judgmental kind, said she shouldn’t have gotten pregnant if she can’t afford clothes, how is she going to afford a baby? No one said she should abort, no one said “put your baby up for adoption” or “you’re going to be a terrible mom” or anything like that. But still. Low blow. I was kind of irritated too, thinking “jeez, how dare you ask us for money? You’re on the internet somehow. Maybe you should get a job or go to friends like they suggested.” But I didn’t say anything to her or the others.

Shortly thereafter, this woman updated her post saying she hoped we were all happy because she was killing herself. She said the light was already fading and she hoped we were all able to sleep at night knowing we’d driven her to suicide. She said we’d shown her it was the only way. And that’s when I became livid.

1- Suicide is a SERIOUS thing. Threatening suicide is the lowest, cruelest thing someone could ever do to someone else, besides actually committing suicide. It is emotional abuse. It is manipulative. It is just plain wrong in every single way. (Please note, threatening suicide is different than expressing that you are having suicidal thoughts and reaching out for help.)

2- I thought that was one of the dumbest things to threaten and/or actually commit suicide over. So some women were being judgmental bitches. Big deal! That’s no reason to threaten to kill yourself and it’s CERTAINLY no reason to actually kill yourself! They’re anonymous strangers online! You were asking for money, they said no, so you threaten to kill yourself?!?!?!!? That seems more like emotional blackmail than an actual cry for help.

3- There was nothing I could do. What, post words of encouragement? I was way too pissed off to do that. What I really wanted to say was that she was being immature, manipulative, stupid. That suicide is serious and she shouldn’t just throw threats like that around. That it was absolutely RIDICULOUS to react this way over something she read on the internet. I wanted to reach through the computer screen and slap her until either my hands bled or some sense occurred to her.

4- She’s three months pregnant! Some states won’t even allow you to have an abortion after this time period, and she’s going to kill herself AND a baby! How selfish is that?!?!?! I wanted to tell her that if she was really willing to kill her baby, she should put it up for adoption! She can’t afford it AND she doesn’t care whether it lives or dies?!?!?! As a pregnant woman, this steamed me more than anything.

So, what did I do? I said nothing to her. I noted that lots of women were responding with things like “No, please don’t do it” and “No, it’s not worth it, it’s not the way out!” Not one person said “this is bullshit” or anything like that. People were posting the phone number for the suicide hotline and encouraging her to call, begging her to reach out and seek help. So I thought, ok, I should do something about this.

I reported the post to the staff and the user moderators. Twice. I begged them to trace her IP address and report the situation to the authorities. Furthermore, I begged them to remove the post from the website. I also made my own post to bring people’s attention to it (because not a lot of people were actually commenting, so I was worried) and begged those people to also report it. Hopefully the owners/staff/moderators or whatever would notice it and be able to help. I googled “how to report an anonymous online suicide threat” and received no answers. I called the suicide hotline to see if they knew of any resources that I could file a report to, to see if they could intervene. I was told that there was no such thing, that I’d done all I could do. The post was eventually removed and I don’t know what happened in regards to the woman who made the threat or her baby. I won’t get a good night’s sleep for a long time over it.

I’m just beyond pissed off that someone would react this way. Yes, the women who told her she shouldn’t have gotten pregnant in the first place were way out of line. I feel guilty that my first instinct was to feel the same way about her asking us for money: irritated at the audacity. They deserved to be reported to the staff and have their comments removed. Maybe even their entire accounts deleted. But to threaten to take your life over that? Or worse, to actually take your life and your baby’s life over that? Unforgivable.

I reported it because I am worried about that baby she’s carrying. If this woman is a Borderline Personality, using this threat to garner pity, then that is one of the most disgusting things I have ever seen another human do. (Not THE most disgusting. I work in criminal law, remember). If this woman was serious and really going to/trying to harm herself, or had already done so, then that makes me angry, too, because it’s not just HER life anymore. It never will be ever again. I did what I did out of anger and disgust rather than concern. And that makes me feel like I’m a bad person.

I’ve talked to friends and family who were threatening suicide to manipulate people and who were actually thinking about suicide. It’s not easy to forgive the emotional blackmailers and it’s not easy to stop worrying about the people who are actually considering it. It’s also hard to talk those actually considering it down from that perch. It is stressful. It is exhausting. It is heartbreaking. And when people use that threat just to make you feel those feelings, just to get you to do what they want or just to inflict that pain on you, it enrages me.

There’s no way to know if she was serious. There’s no way to know if the moderators or whatever were able to get her help. There’s no way to know if that help got there on time. And this stranger, this selfish woman, made me feel this way. I’ll never forgive her.

About mrsalicia

I am a Paralegal at a small criminal defense and personal injury firm in my small town. I graduated from Western Washington University with a BA in Political Science and Philosophy. I have my Paralegal Certificate, as well. I write a blog in my spare time. I am married to a wonderful man and recently gave birth to a beautiful little girl. View all posts by mrsalicia

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