Facebook to the Rescue: Authorities Use Social Media to Prevent N.Y.C. Bridge Suicide

George Washington Bridge

Dave Kotinsky/Getty

updated 11/14/2013 AT 8:30 AM ET

originally published 11/13/2013 AT 4:00 PM ET

If you thought social media served no greater purpose than to waste time at work or locate old pals, think again. One Facebook status ended up saving a New Jersey teen’s life this week.

According to the New York Daily News, an unidentified 18-year-old posted a picture of New York City’s George Washington Bridge along with the words “I’m thinking of jumping” on Tuesday. A friend of the New Jersey college student immediately noticed the troubling status and expressed his concern to authorities.

To boost prevention efforts, New Jersey officers passed the information on to the Port Authority Police Department. The department’s Lt. Thomas Michaels handed out a photo of the teen to his staff and contacted the college student on Facebook, encouraging the young man to call him for help. In a few hours Lt. Michaels’ phone was ringing.

I was shocked that he called and thrilled that he was still alive, Michaels told the Daily News. We’ve used Facebook to verify a threat and access pictures, but this is the first time we ve used social media to reach out to someone in a case like this. He was a young kid in a really bad place. We talked about it for a while, and I told him about my troubles in college.

From there Michaels encouraged the teen, who was on a bus to the George Washington Bridge, to get off at an earlier stop. Officers met the student and brought him to a nearby hospital for evaluation.

We hope that this young man finds the help and support he needs thanks to the efforts of his friends and the dedicated officers who reached out to him. This heroic and caring gesture should be a reminder that you should never hesitate to reach out to a loved one you believe is in need.


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