Why we say “Don’t call the Cops”

CN: Discussion of Suicidal ideation, death, mental health, mental illness, police violence, well-intentioned NT (neurotypical) fuckery.











This has been rolling around in my head all day. 

A string of conversation that I see online on a regular basis is posts, that often turn into arguments,  about not calling the cops on people who are discussing suicide and death on social media. This is especially true on Facebook. 

I didn’t actually get to sit down and write this when I first started it. That’s ok though because it means I have had time to be in a better headspace.

I will start by saying this: Suicidal ideations, and being suicidal, are not the same thing. They can be connected, but they are separate things. Talking online about suicidal ideation is often the opposite of being suicidal. As a friend put it, it is more like letting off steam in a pressure cooker.

There are people in your life that, due to trauma or just having a messed up brain, think about death at least a few times a day. Sometimes they think about it several times a day. For some, it is a source of stress. For others, it is just something that is there, at the edge of their mind.

It is very much a symptom of PTSD and other disorders, but there is not always anything we can do about it. Except talk.

Sometimes, a lot of times, for a lot of people, talking about it, even vaguely, is an important part of keeping suicidal ideations, and being actively suicidal, as separate things. Talking about the screwed up things going through our heads can help us to keep them that way, in our heads. It can help to keep them from moving from the realm of everpresent thoughts to the realm of plans.

Once it gets to the realm of plans, it’s time to seek help. For some people seeking help isn’t a viable option.

So, with that morbid groundwork out of the way: If you see a friend talking about suicidal thoughts on social media, DON’T CALL THE COPS.

I hear about it all the time. Some well-intentioned individual (benefit of the doubt here) called the cops or reported the post to Facebook.

Don’t be that person. It’s likely to do more harm than good.

If you think that your friend is in a bad spot, reach out to them. Talk to them. Ask them if they are ok. If you are not personally emotionally strong enough to do so, get someone else to. Either it will turn out that they are just fine, and just needed a place to vent, or they will be open to seeking help.

If you call the cops though, they have a good chance of ending up dead.

Police, in the vast majority of cases, are not trained in dealing with mental health crises. Police these days consistently prove that they are crap at de-escalation. It is also not unheard of for police to arrive on scene and end up shooting the suicidal individual (who might not have actually even been suicidal before the police arrived).

But, let’s say it does end well. Let’s say that the police get there and check up on your friend and no one gets shot. What now?

They may or may not know who called, but they are unlikely to speak out on social media again any time soon. The ideations don’t magically go away. They just don’t have the outlet that used to be there for them. You proved to them that it was unsafe to talk about their mental health in that environment.

Also, and this should be obvious with what I posted above, but, don’t report the post to Facebook either.

If you report it to Facebook, one of four things is going to happen. 

1.  Facebook is going to ignore the report.

2.  Facebook is going to call the cops. (see everything above)

3.  Facebook is going to send them a concerned message from a bot, letting them know that one of their friends ratted them out and will do so again given the opportunity (again, see above), and offer them a few resources that you yourself could have messaged them directly with.

4.  Facebook may ban them for anywhere from 24 hours to permanently, for violating the terms of service.

Basically, reporting them to Facebook is only useful if you are trying to isolate your “friend” from whatever support network they have in place.

If you are going to help, try to help directly. If you are going to contact someone, contact someone who can actually help. Either someone who is trained to deal with such things or someone who your friend trusts and lives close to. But, try to talk to them first. Find out from them where they are and what their headspace is like.

There is a good chance that if they are talking about such things on Facebook, but not discussing plans, that they are just talking. Getting the stuff out of their head and into the ether, so that it doesn’t eat them.

We all have our demons, and most of us need our friends to help fight them. Don’t be the one that feeds us to them.

It’s Not The Same

Content Notice: hitler mention, pre-war Germany, nazis, current American political climate, trump, death, Auschwitz, gas chamber mention, citizenship proof.

Why can’t they get it?

When actual Jews, survivors included, tell you our country is acting like pre-war Germany,  you know there is a problem.

I fucking knew the word Auschwitz before I knew my family was Catholic.

I wasn’t born a century ago,  but I grew up with stories about pre-war Germany. As a child,  I literally had nightmares about that camp. I lost a lot of my family there.

But, that’s not what frustrates me most.

Men and women with number tattoos speak out and are ignored.  Sometimes they are verbally attacked. Some people even accuse them of antisemitism… For comparing the events of this decade to what happened to them.

This is the problem with creating a romanticized image of past atrocities.

People have this storybook image of Germany leading up top WWII.

They see the Hollywood images of grand balls masking the most horrid atrocities.

They have an understanding of the Holocaust that goes from proud Yiddish shop keepers and Yiddish kids polishing boots,  to gas chambers and aerial bombardment over the course of an hour and forty minutes.

They don’t see themselves in that.

They don’t see that in the environment around them.

They don’t understand the parallels,  because everyone that was there is either dead or too old to fight them.

It didn’t start with gas chambers.

It started with a fucked over economy.

It started with grumblings over lack of work.

It started with the rise of politicians that said they would make the fatherland great again.

Then,  with the rise of nationalism came a need for a scapegoat. Nationalism doesn’t work without an “other.”

First it was the easy targets. Homosexuals, trans people,  the physically and mentally disabled.

First, it was words,  then it was looking the other way while “ruffians” carried out the will behind those words.

Then, it was “Papers Please,” as the government began taking a hand in deciding just who was and was not German.

Then it was who was and was not sufficiently German.

People are fast to say “But he has Hispanic supporters.  He has black supporters. He has gay supporters.”

So did Hitler.

Half of my grandfather’s family died because they were “Good Germans.”

They died because they loved Germany,  they supported their Fuhrer. They stood proud for their country.  They rightly expected the same in return.

Those that survived did so by recognizing the signs. They abandoned everything they had and left their home behind.

They were fortunate and they knew the system. They understood what it meant to be a German in America,  and that it would save them here when it would not in Germany.

Those that refused to see,  died.

This is not a reaction to Trump alone.

We were not silent when the PATRIOT Act created the Department of Homeland Security.

We were not silent when state after state started actively persecuting trans women.

We were not blind when immigrants,  even those on long term visas were deported in mass numbers.

We are not suddenly overreacting.

We’ve been on this spiral for at least eighteen years, and that’s a conservative estimate.

It is just that now, we are officially to the point where American citizens have to fear detainment because they are not American enough.

We are to the point where our nation’s leadership spouts hate towards various groups,  and “ruffians” are going out and acting on the implied will of those words. And when they are not caught,  the government is silent. When they are, it is either played off as nothing, or words are spoken that imply tacit approval.

The leadership of our nation talks in terms of good Americans and enemies,  and both groups are American citizens.

But,  it’s not the same.  There are no parallels.  Sure, Citizens are having to carry paperwork to prove they are American in order to avoid detainment,  but that’s not the same.