[WikiEN-l] Disturbing post on Reference Desk, requiring action

Ray Saintonge saintonge at telus.net
Mon Feb 20 05:25:47 UTC 2006

Tony Sidaway wrote:

>On 2/19/06, Robert Merkel <robert.merkel at benambra.org> wrote:
>>As a concerned human being, I would like to see if we can help to locate
>>this user ASAP and get them some help if at all possible (and assuming
>>they haven't acted already).
>The person here didn't ask for help of that kinds, and his comments,
>such as I read them, indicate that he's in a fairly rational frame of
>mind and, if he needs to, able to seek the help he needs.  Although
>this is a public page, I suggest that an approach consistent with
>Wikipedia's privacy policy is appropriate.  The Samaritans (a
>telephone befriending organization that originated in the UK) deal
>with calls of this nature every day, and there are similar
>organisations available 24/7 in many countries.  Their methodology, as
>I understand it, is similar to that of the confessional.  They'll
>listen and provide friendly advice, but they don't (except perhaps in
>exceptional circumstances) intrude.  This may be an appropriate model
>to adopt here.
We had one of these a couple of years ago, which was tracked down to a 
private school in Connecticut.  Based on at least one of his previous 
edits I suspect that this individual is in Canada, and we do have an 
extensive network of suicide prevention help lines.  See 
http://www.suicideinfo.ca/csp/go.aspx?tabid=77  for a series of phone 

A person whose suicide is imminent does not need to ask about painless 
methods.  He has likely gone over that territory many times before, and 
has already chosen his preferred method.

In some respects he is dealing with things rationally, and he is seeking 
help, but by all appearances he does not know to whom he can turn.  The 
unusual demands of his father suggest that that avenue is not open.  The 
reactions that he anticipates if he should talk about his concerns may 
in his mind be worse than suicide.  A person in his position is 
concerned about being judged if he should reveal too much about 
himself.  Even picking up the phone to call the local help line can be 
thwarted by this fear.  Help lines, and other public agencies can be 
intimidating, and many of them are judgemental.

There is a very limited amount that we can do in the wiki, but at least 
we can give anonymity to his questions and the answers.  I believe that 
there are situations where suicide is an appropriate course of action, 
but the last thing he needs is a debate on the morality that attaches to 
either side of the issue.  The needs are more personal than that.   
There is nothing wrong with being willing to help, but who would 
continue to do so  would remain his choice


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