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A Twitter community in South Africa rallied to prevent a potential suicide this weekend, as a Durban-based mother of two dramatically tweeted an attempt to take her own life.
The drama unfolded at 9:17pm on Friday night, with a series of tweets over a few hours from the user asking how much alcohol one should consume before “cutting an artery”. The tweets continued, becoming more emotional:
“…Please don’t save me, I just didn’t want to die alone”
“If u hate the mother of your kids, hurt her, leave her, break her down and take them from her and then isolate her. Take all she loves away.”
“…asking god almighty to forgive my final sin, love my angels, forgive my humanity, take my pain away.”
Soon an alert community of Twitter followers realised the series of tweets were genuine and began rallying to help the distraught mother. An editor of a major national newspaper also got involved in the Twitter rescue effort. Mail & Guardian editor Nic Dawes, a regular Twitter user, was one of the first to tweet for help, and began co-ordinating a search for the Twitter user.
Users on Twitter immediately responded, mobilising to help find the woman in an attempt to prevent her from carrying out the suicide. Twitter users also began tweeting messages of love and support to the woman, with @ThandyM tweeting “… girl I’m sure it looks like there is no other way pls don’t do what u planning on doing u have kids to think about.”
@angelaclarkZA also tweeted in support: “…don’t leave THIS legacy for your kids, be someone they can be proud of, THEY NEED YOU, no matter what you think right now!”
As the Twitter community rallied to help the woman, her tweets continued, becoming more alarming. Twitter users began re-tweeting the woman’s cellphone number and home address details in an effort to trace her.
Throughout the Friday night and into the early hours of Saturday morning various Twitter users joined the search for the woman’s location in an effort to save her, while the police and Netcare 911 were also called upon. As events unfolded, the hashtags “#findMary” and “#saveMary” * were created to mobilise support and assist the rescue effort.
After several hours, the efforts of the Twitter community paid off as the woman was located. By early Saturday morning there was a collective sigh of relief as the first tweets came through confirming the woman had been found and was with her family.
@eljaysa tweeted: “Feel really humbled by the power of twitter, the caring of people & the difficulties life can present to anyone.”
“Thank you Twitter. Because of you we found a loved member of our group,” tweeted @SynStalker.
Since the ordeal, the woman’s Twitter account has been deleted in an effort to protect her identity.
* Name substituted to protect identity.