A "Just Because" Phone Call
Hulk Hogan is probably the last person you would imagine trying to kill himself, since he is basically a cartoon character. It would be like finding out Bugs Bunny had depression.
From Steven Salvatore
Probably after seeing the most recent attempts to "reboot" him.
But after his son got into a terrible car accident while his marriage was falling apart, the Hulkster decided he had enough, and holed up in his home with pills, booze and a gun. He kept telling everyone who called that he was all right (like soldiers, Hogan is a manly man) until Laila Ali called.
And you PICK UP when Laila Ali calls.
Muhammad Ali's daughter was calling him because they were friends, from co-starring on American Gladiators, and she just wanted to see how he was doing because he had seemed sad on the set. She wasn't calling to grill him on "what was wrong" or ask if he "needed help," but just wanted to say hi and see how he was feeling.
Hogan was just sitting in his empty house all alone, having lost his wife, not knowing if he was going to lose his son, and facing a future with nobody in his life except Brooke Hogan. He had hit rock bottom. Then Laila Ali called just to say hi, and it suddenly hit him that other people out there care whether the Hulkster lives or dies.
There's a real strong message there, which is that if you have a friend who you know has been depressed, or is thinking suicidal thoughts, all it takes is a couple of minutes out of your day to see if you can get Laila Ali to call them.
If you can't get a hold of her, maybe ask T.I. to go over and talk to them.
Blizzard Customer Support
Most online gamers think of customer support as the annoying hand of The Man which is never there when you are being harassed by a horrible troll calling you inexcusably offensive words like "faggot" when you steal his herbs, but is always getting in your business when you totally justifiably toss someone a harmless insult like "faggot" for stealing your herbs.
And sure, customer support's main job is to fail to respond to your concerns about PvP balance or give you delayed, inaccurate updates about server outages. But you tell them a guildmate was talking to you about suicide right before abruptly signing off, and they are right on it, tracking him down and sending emergency personnel to his house.
On the flipside, of course, for every good deed, there is a dick crying sour grapes.
Not only Blizzard but Twitter communities have quickly put aside their usual Internet dicking-around to track down a suicidal user and get her some local help. Even the Cracked forums have responded numerous times to posters thinking of ending it all, with the most cynical, goatse-posting, snarky assholes offering a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on, or sharing their own experiences from rock bottom. In the most dire cases, people have dropped everything to track down the poster and call local emergency services to make sure they're safe.
The thing about the Internet is it is REALLY weird to say, "Thank you Wonkypops for sharing something so personal," or "I was inspired by DizzleDrizzle's wise words."
And sure, when it comes to the Internet, there are a lot of trolls, or just lonely people, who might pretend they're suicidal just to get attention, but if you get tricked by them, who actually loses? When trolls trick you into clicking on a spam offer or a promised porn link, maybe they prove you're greedy or a pervert, and it makes you feel stupid. But if they trick you into saying something nice to an imaginary suicidal person, what does that prove? That you have a heart and care about human life? Ha ha! That troll sure exposed you!
Even if nine out of 10 threatened Internet suicides are trolls or attention-getters, I don't care about looking stupid nine times to save one person's life.
As long as I don't have to wear a fruit hat. If I have to wear a fruit hat to save you, your life is in God's hands.
A Really Nice Guy That Lives by a Cliff
So you might have heard this story about this Australian dude that happens to live by a picturesque cliff that a lot of suicidal people want to throw themselves from.
Now, while you or I would decide sooner or later that this is a fucking depressing place to live and find a better house, Don Ritchie has lived there 50 years, and instead of trying to avoid these sad, stressful situations that would send any of us running the other way, he goes out there every time and talks to them.
He's saved 160 lives by some estimates. He hasn't been able to save everyone and has watched people jump to their deaths right in front of him, but that doesn't stop him from going out there again and again, every time.
And after talking to hundreds of suicidal people, I don't know about you, but I'd be tempted to start yelling at each new person about how the 100 people before them all said the same thing and where do they get off thinking their problems are so unique. But Ritchie manages to treat each person like they matter.
Apparently this is what a saint looks like.
And the most amazing thing is that he's not the only guy doing this. Halfway around the world in Japan, Yukio Shige hangs out at a popular suicide cliff, and not only talks people out of suicide on the spot, but later helps them with their family problems and tries to help them find jobs.
And this is what a Japanese saint looks like.
On days when you just want to watch the world burn, remember that for every dickhead in the world bullying gay teenagers there is a guy like this.
Air Force veteran David Sharpe was suffering from severe PTSD and anger issues. He was picking fights, self-medicating with booze and punching holes in walls, and anyone who tried to help him was told to fuck off. One day he hit bottom, put a gun in his mouth, closed his eyes and was ready to pull the trigger when a puppy licked his ear.
He opened his eyes and found Cheyenne, the puppy he had adopted a few months ago, staring at him with her head cocked to one side. Now I can tell you that it is very hard to go through with the action of killing yourself when a puppy is looking at you.
I'm not suggesting you test it out, but I mean, that feels about right, doesn't it?
"Who's going to take care of me?" Sharpe imagined the dog saying to him, even though she was probably saying, "I'm hungry." Or possibly, "Is it not OK to lick your ear? Is that one of those 'boundaries' we talked about?" But Imaginary Cheyenne Voice had a good point, and Sharpe put the gun away.
Later, he found out he could talk to the dog about everything that had happened to him, without lashing out or feeling defensive or worrying about being judged. He could talk about the survivor's guilt he felt without being told he shouldn't feel that way. The dog might lick her genitals occasionally, but she'd never blurt out some kind of well-meaning but infuriating cliche.
See, this doesn't happen.
Not only did Cheyenne save Sharpe's life, but Sharpe is saving other lives by starting P2V, a program to hook up pound dogs with traumatized vets, so someone else can have their face licked when they're putting a gun barrel in their mouth.
Or preferably, before that point.
The moral here is not to go around giving puppies to depressed people, because surprise gift puppies are always a bad idea. The point is that a person is driven to suicide by a whole bunch of different things, which build a wall around them, piece by piece, until the last piece falls into place and the wall is sealed so that there's no way out. Sometimes we look at all the problems that build up someone's wall of hopelessness and think there's no way any of the insignificant things we could do would be able to take it all down. But to break the illusion of there being no way out, you don't need to take down the whole wall, you just need to make one crack in it. One puppy lick, one phone call from Laila Ali, one corny song, one Internet stranger, one old Australian guy asking if you want to come in for a cup of tea.
Just one ray of light.
And one crack in that wall might be all it takes to turn things around and begin the long, tough job of tearing the whole thing down.
For more from Christina, check out 6 Well Intentioned Ways You're Ruining Your Dog and The 6 Worst Parts of Being Chinese (Not In The Stereotypes).