Flashback to late 2004, perhaps early 2005.
I was living in Regina (Canada) as a supervisor for a very small security company. We specialized in providing both security and guest services to the hotel industry. At that time, we had 2 contracts (and 2 sites) in Regina. I had been transferred there to take over from the current supervisor and rescue the 2 contracts — both of which were on the verge of walking away.
Anyway, at that point I was very new to the city. I had no contacts there other than work-related people. My social life was online — myspace, and a few chat rooms where I had made friends.
I remember one night one of those friends was very distraught. It took some time to get the story from her, but she was very concerned for one of her friends. She lived on the east coast of the US. Her friend was a member of the Canadian Armed Forces, and was stationed in British Columbia (Canada). He had been talking about suicide and had suddenly stopped communicating, and as it turned out, had gone AWOL (Absent Without Leave) from his base as well.
Looking back, at that point I was probably already showing signs of anxiety and depression, but all I knew that night is that I wasn’t going to let someone take their life if I could help it. So I got on the phone. It was a complicated situation, because the info I had, was coming from someone else, who was in the US and their information was patchy at best. It was being forwarded to me in Canada (and then on to others as I reached out for help) about a member of the Armed Forces. Very strange!
I don’t remember who I called first. I think 911. I also remember talking to the RCMP, the local crisis line, and a crisis line in BC. Several calls out, several calls in. Chatting online the whole time trying to get more information. And I remember this building sense of doom as the minutes ticked by that we would be too late.
I remember the helpless feeling as I kept trying to find the right person to call, the right phone number that would get me in contact with the right base in BC, and explain the situation again — before something terrible happened.
I don’t remember exactly how long this all lasted. I’m pretty sure it was well over an hour, maybe close to 2 hours. RCMP calling back, getting information — trying to help me, so I could help them, so that someone could hopefully find this guy before he harmed himself. The information I was getting slowed to a trickle, then stopped altogether. The calls in and out of my apartment also slowed and then finally stopped. And I waited. I remember I hardly slept that day (because I was working nights). I was so worried about this guy I didn’t know. I’d never met. I just wanted him to be OK.
I don’t remember if it was that afternoon, or the next… but I did eventually receive a call from the RCMP saying that they’d found him — he was ok, but that he’d be getting help. He had suffered from a severe depressive episode, but they expected he would be just fine. He hadn’t harmed himself other than consuming a significant portion of alcohol and some pills.
And I remember a few days after that, I received a call from an Armed Forces Base in BC. I don’t remember the rank of the man I talked to, but he was evidently a fairly high ranking officer from this guy’s base. He was calling to say thank you to me. He also reassured me that this guy was going to be ok, and that he’d be getting the help he needed. He was so grateful that despite the crazy circumstances, that someone had stepped up. He didn’t say it out loud but reading between the lines of what he said, I got the distinct impression that if I hadn’t done so, this guy may have caused himself much more serious harm, if not made a fatal final choice.
I don’t know what happened to the guy. That was 12 or 13 years ago. So Dude, wherever you are — whatever path life has taken you on since then, know that I still remember that night. I hope life has treated you well and that you got the treatment you needed, and if necessary, that you’ve continued to get help.