There have always been those who suffer from moments of utter bleakness, those who can't see a way forward. Some go on to believe the world would be a better place without them, or, in the case of one acquaintance, that this life is just a stepping stone to the next level, and opt out of the game altogether. That acquaintance of mine gave no hint of what was on her mind, she just took a bottle of pills, locked herself in her car, in a sealed garage, and left the engine running. A real belt and braces job. She had set her outbox to send the explanatory emails long after she had left this world and joined the queue for the reincarnation she firmly believed in. She had no intention of being prevented from leaving.
In comparison there have always been those who threaten to kill themselves who actually just want some love and attention. From the mascara-streaked girls sobbing hysterically outside bad parties to the distraught young man shouting through the letterbox of his ex-girlfriend's house, we've all heard those cries of "I'll do it! I'll throw myself under the next bus!"
Recently I have noticed a new, technologically-enhanced slant to this. People who would, in the past, ruin a perfectly pleasant night out by getting drunk and faux-suicidal or pestering you with late-night anguished phone calls are now embracing the immediacy and audience of social networking sites and posting status updates along the lines of "Life is so dark. Eveything is shit. Tell me why I should go on living?"
I am a compassionate woman. If I thought for one moment they had any intention of doing themselves harm I would be on my way quicker than you can say razor blades. But I know that if they were seriously thinking of checking out they'd be unlikely to pop into Facebook first, to do a quick status update, let alone stick around to read and reply to all the comments.
As for arousing my concern the whole procedure is counterproductive. I read such updates and am instantly annoyed. I ignore them until they stop being attention-seeking twats. Their life may well suck right now. Mine isn't always a ride on rainbows to the sweet shop but I still consider it far too valuable to waste on talking people out of doing something they have no intention of doing in the first place.
I know what they really want is a hug. They know what they really want is a hug. I really wish they would just fucking ask for a hug. I'd give it, gladly.