Fri, Apr 27, 2012 - Page 2 News List

Facebook used to foil suicides

By Fang Chih-hsien  /  Staff reporter

The online social Web site Facebook is not only causing netizens to update their status wherever they are, it is also becoming an advance warning system for netizens to alert police of suicide attempts.

A man surnamed Hsiao (蕭) from Changhua County posted on his Facebook page on Wednesday the message: “What happens when you take a week’s worth of sleeping pills with milk tea?”

A netizen in Greater Kaohsiung studying at Cheng Shiu University, surnamed Tan (譚), felt something was wrong when he saw the message and immediately alerted the police.

Tan said he had met Hsiao when there were both volunteers during Typhoon Morakot disaster relief efforts in 2009, but he did not know his real name, phone number, or address.

Greater Kaohsiung’s Dahua police station chief Chen Wen-chen (陳文鎮) and officer Lin Min-chun (林旻諄) told Tan to keep contacting online netizens who had access to Hsiao’s Facebook page to ask for his name.

During Tan’s search, Hsiao’s status showed he was online, but despite netizens’ responding to his post, Hsiao did not answer.

Tan managed to connect with someone who knew Hsiao and obtained Hsiao’s name, and police quickly used the name to search through the household registration database to locate Hsiao. They alerted Changhua County’s Tianjhong precinct to send officers to Hsiao’s residence.

Police found Hsiao in his school dorm, already unconscious from having taken the drugs and sent him to hospital, where doctors saved his life.

In a similar case last month, a young woman ended her life on her birthday by gradually inhaling fumes from a charcoal stove in her room. Entries on her page showed that at the time of her suicide, she had been chatting with nine friends and had even posted pictures of the smoke-filled room. None of the nine friends contacted police. Her boyfriend found her lifeless the following morning.

Translated by Jake Chung, Staff Writer

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