Franklin James Cook

Alert Hotel Owner Helps Stop Group Suicide

In Intervention on April 24, 2009 at 10:16 am

[Editor’s note: As I’ve scanned news stories over the past six months for use on SPNAC, I’ve seen a number of reports describing successful interventions or rescues of people attempting to kill themselves, and I’ve decided to begin highlighting such stories now and then. FJC]

ORIGINAL STORY — In its online English edition yesterday, South Korea’s Dong-a Ilbo newspaper tells how of an inn owner whose thoughtful actions, combined with state-of-the-art police work, “prevented a group suicide attempted by five young people.

Hongcheon police said yesterday that they received a phone call around 7:25 p.m. Wednesday. The caller was the 50-year-old owner of a pension [hotel] in Seo-myeon, and said she refused to rent a room to five young men and women who looked “suspicious.”

Suspecting a group suicide attempt, police sent text messages to some 1,000 lodging facilities under their jurisdiction, asking them to report if a group of three men and two women sought a room.

The police station established a mass text messaging system last year to prevent crimes.

Less than 15 minutes after the initial call to police, another hotel reported that five people in their 20s had checked in. When police arrived, the five were barbecuing in the front yard of the lodging place, and when questioned, they denied any errant activity, but further questioning made the police increasingly suspicious.

Police asked the five to open the trunk of their car, and found briquettes, a charcoal brazier, and duct tape, items used in a recent series of group suicides in Gangwon Province. The five eventually admitted to police that they did indeed seek to commit group suicide.

Police handed the five over to their families yesterday, saying they conspired to commit suicide together after meeting on an Internet suicide café.

[The rescue of these young people followed the same course of action that has been emphasized generally in SPNAC coverage, as follows: “Suicide is taken seriously. People and helpers work together to reach out to someone who might be in danger. A life is saved.” Some will say that statement is an oversimplification, and of course it is, but I would argue that if every community made that simple formula a priority, then we wouldn’t–as is now the case–daily overlook thousands and thousands of people who are in danger. For more detailed information, click on the “Need Help?” tab, above.]
[The abridged URL for this post is http://tinyurl.com/AlertOwner .]

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