Helping Suicidal Gamers

For those of you who follow my articles on TORWars.com, you’ve probably seen this. However, after reading all the articles on a gamer this week who allegedly encouraged people attending an Eve Online fan convention to troll a suicidal player until he actually did kill himself, I knew I needed to write about it and share it as widely as I could. Here is a reprint of what I wrote on Thursday morning.

Today, I read an Escapist article that both terrified and horrified me. The article started with this statement: “CCP [the developer of Eve Online] is investigating an Eve Online FanFest panel for sharing a severely depressed player’s contact info, then encouraging others to harass him until he killed himself.”

It went on to describe how the presenter, who is part of the CSM council that officially represents player interests to CCP, allegedly showed copies of the suicidal player’s depressed comments from in game and gave out in-game contact information in the presentation. He then apparently suggested fellow gamers harass this player until he did go forward to commit suicide.

What did members of the audience do? They laughed. Not one person had the courage to stand up in that convention room and call out this presenter on his shocking, despicable comments.

 

The Hard Reality of Suicide

 According to the World Health Organization, approximately one million people take their own lives every year. Another 20 million attempt suicide and are thankfully not successful. It is more common in those with depression and those who have problems with alcohol. The chances are good that you actually have met someone who is or has been suicidal at some point in their lives.

If you are a guild officer or guild leader, you may very well have to deal with one of your guild mates confiding in you that they are thinking of taking their own lives. Do NOT take this lightly. You may be their lifeline. I have had a couple of online friends who became suicidal. It was an extraordinarily emotional and difficult experience for all of us, and I’m going to share one of my experiences with you. I hope it will help you if you ever encounter a similar situation.

Recognizing Suicidal Thinking

 The first step for you as a guild member is to recognize the signs of suicidal thinking. People who commit suicide don’t typically do so in a vacuum. Often they talk about death, a particularly painful event they’re experiencing, or have a tremendous feeling of hopelessness. Here is a helpful list of some signs.

Talking about suicide Any talk about suicide, dying, or self-harm, such as “I wish I hadn’t been born,” “If I see you again…,” and “I’d be better off dead.”
Seeking out lethal means Seeking access to guns, pills, knives, or other objects that could be used in a suicide attempt.
Preoccupation with death Unusual focus on death, dying, or violence. Writing poems or stories about death.
No hope for the future Feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and being trapped (“There’s no way out”). Belief that things will never get better or change.
Self-loathing, self-hatred Feelings of worthlessness, guilt, shame, and self-hatred. Feeling like a burden (“Everyone would be better off without me”).
Getting affairs in order Making out a will. Giving away prized possessions. Making arrangements for family members.
Saying goodbye Unusual or unexpected visits or calls to family and friends. Saying goodbye to people as if they won’t be seen again.
Withdrawing from others Withdrawing from friends and family. Increasing social isolation. Desire to be left alone.
Self-destructive behavior Increased alcohol or drug use, reckless driving, unsafe sex. Taking unnecessary risks as if they have a “death wish.”
Sudden sense of calm A sudden sense of calm and happiness after being extremely depressed can mean that the person has made a decision to commit suicide.

A Call for Help

A few years back, one of my online friends, who I’ll call ‘Mark’ to protect his privacy, broke up with his fiancee. He adored her, and the breakup crushed him. I saw the warning signs when Mark said things in our group chat like “I don’t think anyone would attend my funeral” and “I can’t live without her.” All of us in that group tried to be encouraging and offered what help we could.

Then, on Thanksgiving Day, he came online to our group chat and said one word. “Goodbye.”

My heart hit the pit of my stomach. I KNEW something was very, very wrong. The three of us who were online then tried to reach him in chat to see if he was OK. One person mentioned having Mark’s cell phone number. I asked him to send a text message. He was scared, and wasn’t sure what to do. Being scared, by the way, is entirely normal. He gave me Mark’s phone number.

I sent a text asking him if he was OK. I got a chilling reply. “The gun jammed, so I took all my pills.”

While gulping deep breaths to try to slow down my racing heart, I immediately dialed 911, and said “You’re going to think this is really strange, because I live about 800 miles away from my friend, but he just told me he’s trying to kill himself.” The dispatcher was extremely professional and took the information that I had–Mark’s cell phone number, the text message which I forwarded to them, and what had been going on the last couple of weeks with him.

In the meantime, I typed to my friends in chat what was happening, hands trembling. We scrambled to get all the information we could find to help the police locate him–his facebook profile, his IP and ISP information from our forum, every little tidbit we could think of. Mark’s life was literally in the hands of three online friends and the police department. I was 800 miles away, and I felt utterly powerless.

About half an hour later, a police sergeant called me to let me know they had found Mark’s house. The information we had given the police had helped them quickly narrow down his real name and address. Within minutes, they had sent several squad cars out. About 20 minutes after that, he called me again to let me know the paramedics had gotten to him in time, they were taking him to the hospital, and they thought he was going to be OK. I let our chat group know Mark was going to make it. Then, I sobbed on my husband’s shoulder in sheer relief.

Mark had to spend several days in the hospital and is now doing better. I emailed the police department commending them for finding my friend so quickly and working so professionally with me.  

What To Do If You Think Someone May Be Suicidal

If any of your guild members shows the signs of suicide, please don’t be passive about it. Talk to that person. Respect their feelings, but don’t ignore the signs. What they are feeling is very real to them, even if it does not always make sense to the rest of us. If you recognize some of the suicide signs listed above in either yourself or a friend, please know there is help for you. In the US, you can call 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or go to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website (click here).

In the United Kingdom, you can find help at Samaritans.org (click here). The hotline in the UK is 08457 90 90 90, and in the Republic of Ireland it is 1850 60 90 90. For those outside the US or UK, the Befrienders.org website (click here) has a list of suicide lifeline phone numbers for many countries.

 Sometimes, people will say things in the in-game general chat that may trigger your alarm bells to go off about that person having possible suicidal tendencies. Please bring that to BioWare’s attention immediately so that they can take steps to get that person help. To do that, click the big question mark at the top of your screen. A window will pop up. At the bottom right of that window is a button that says ‘create ticket’. Click that.

Another window will pop up. Select ‘general/other’ from the drop down list. In the description, put “Emergency: Possible suicide attempt”. Put the person’s in game name, the server, the time, and as much detail as you can about what was said. BioWare has account information, so they can get help to that person very quickly.

Don’t be afraid about ‘bothering’ BioWare with this. They are there to help. They would much rather have you contact them and determine nothing was wrong than have everyone ignore the signs and discover later that someone died as a result. You will never be ‘bothering’ anyone by reporting it. Don’t leave it to someone else, either. It’s better for BioWare to get multiple reports on this than none at all.

If you help someone who has made a suicide attempt, recognize that is an extremely stressful and difficult event for you, too. This is especially true if that person dies. Don’t be afraid to get help for yourself to be able to handle it effectively. Whatever you choose to do to help, do something. If it’s a false alarm, great! That person won’t die! You also gave that person information he or she might need in the future. If it really is a serious attempt, you may very well be the difference in that person living and dying.

Photo source: (1) National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Enhanced by Zemanta
Advertisements

One comment on “Helping Suicidal Gamers

  1. Thank you for the article on TOr and reposting it here. depression is a difficult thing to live with, and games and many time the people you meet playing those games, can have huge impacts on helping one throught depression.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s