Franklin James Cook

NPR Caller Tells of Trying To Save Abraham Biggs’ Life

In Intervention, Media on December 9, 2008 at 7:25 am

ORIGINAL BROADCAST — In a program broadcast last Thursday on NPR’s “Talk of the Nation,” a caller during one of the interviews relates information that–if it is accurate–is an important part of the backstory in the suicide of Abraham Biggs in Florida, which Biggs broadcast via webcam in real time over the Internet.

Josh from Indianapolis tells NPR host Neal Conan, “I was actually online and witnessed it as it was unfolding.”

There has been an enormous amount of media about the members of the online audience who watched Biggs’ suicidal actions (and his unconsciousness and his death) and either misinterpreted them as being a ruse or posted crude comments about the drama that was unfolding, but Josh gives a compelling account of people who were “frantically trying to figure out” how to get accurate contact information for Biggs in order to help him.

“People didn’t sit there and watch him for this long, just maliciously not calling in,” he says, recounting how a teenager in India remembered that Biggs had long ago posted his cell phone number online and tried to call but couldn’t complete the international phone connection, so he re-posted the number himself seeking help from others online.

“I was actually the first one that called in to the Miami police department,” says Josh, and after he was transferred to authorities in Broward, where the incident took place, “I was able to call the paramedics, and they were there 20 minutes later.”

So even though there was tragic ignorance, sustained indifference, and even cruelty at work in Biggs’ death, there also was, according to Josh’s report, numerous of people who acted urgently, responsibly, and compassionately. People on the Internet, he says,

“… would have done something a lot sooner if anybody could have … If that kid [the teen in India] had found that number sooner, the very fact that [Abraham] was on that forum could have saved his life.”

Josh’s call came during an interview with novelist Ayelet Waldman, who like Biggs suffers from bipolar disorder, and who like Biggs shared on the Internet the details of an unfolding suicidal crisis, but who–unlike in Biggs’ case–was immediately reached by an online acquaintance who was otherwise a stranger, who compelled her to contact her psychiatrist and get the help she needed.

[The abridged URL for this post is  http://tinyurl.com/SaveBiggsLife .]

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