My brain is still rattling even a week later after hearing the story. Like all life or death stories, this one forces you to ask…
What if she didn’t check Facebook at 4 in the morning?
What if the police didn’t arrive on time?
What if social media didn’t exist?
What is she was too afraid to reach out?
Like I said, the story is still reverberating in my head and it’s fitting that my sister, someone trained as a professional nurse, is playing the role of “healthcare provider” but only in a much different capacity than I would have anticipated.
So it begins..
It’s 4 am. My sister just got back from a night out in NYC. Like most nights out in the city, you can expect that there were a few drinks involved. Anyone that’s been out in the city until 4am can understand the way these nights work. By the time you get home, your brain and body are operating on fumes and you can only handle the important tasks. Ordering late night food and checking Facebook.
So you hit the couch, the phone comes out and Facebook opens.
The newsfeed scroll begins…
The first post in the feed is a group picture of some friends from their night out. Five girls, arms wrapped around each other, big smiles and camera poses (3 minutes ago).
The next is a status update. An update that makes you question why you’re on Facebook in the first place because it says something like, “just got home” or “lower east side.” The content of this post doesn’t really matter because it’s a completely useless post. On to the next update (4 minutes ago).
It’s from an old high school acquaintance. I say “acquaintance” because growing up my sister and this girl were “the other girls” to each other. They ran in different groups and said hi to one another on occasion.
The status update.. (I’m using a fake name here.)
“Remember the happy Jane, remember the good times we have shared. I cannot handle the pain any longer. Goodbye. I love you all. Pray for me please. Until we meet again.” (5 minutes ago)
In sheer disbelief and confusion, my sister ran over to her roommate and showed her the update.
“Is this a joke?”
Her roommate, “I don’t know but this is crazy.”
And in that moment my sister went through a series of questions that I think any reasonable person would ask in that situation.
Should I text her? Should I call her? What if something really is wrong? I haven’t seen this girl since high school. Am I overthinking this? It’s a Facebook post, it can’t be serious…can it?
“Fuck it, i’m texting her.”
“Hey Jane, this is Nicole. I just saw your Facebook update. Is everything ok?”
Within a minute, Jane shoots back a text: “Hi Nicole, I’m so glad you reached out to me but it’s too late..”
The events that followed were sudden and decisive…
Nicole and her roommate made one phone call each.
One to Jane and one to 911.
Jane had overdosed on pain killers and left a goodbye note to her friends and family. She also prepared a farewell video and left it on her computer. The police and paramedics made it to her apartment just as she faded out into darkness and became unconscious. When she made it to the ER she was hooked up to a ventilator because she could no longer breathe. Her organs stopped working and she was now fighting for her life.
It’s hard to know what anyone would do in a situation unless they are faced head on with that choice. In this case, it might have been easy for Nicole and her roommate to go to sleep and brush off the update as a joke, but they made a choice. The text, the phone call, the will to act even at 4am despite having fear of over reacting and being too dramatic because of a little Facebook post.
But overreact they did…
And it helped the paramedics get there on time.
From today’s news:
Facebook Switches Default Setting to Private to Prevent Oversharing
What if Facebook made this switch just one week ago and Jane didn’t “over share” her message?
What if Nicole didn’t see the update or take action, or “overreaction” when she saw the message?
According to the doctors and paramedics, Jane’s Facebook wall would have looked something like this upon sunrise.
Instead, Jane has a second chance at life and a newfound appreciation for the kindness and caring of human beings.
Her Facebook header now reads:
“You never know when one kind act or one word of encouragement will change a life forever.”