Youth Mentor Prevents Suicide Across Country

This hits home for me, this was just down the freeway from me in Sacramento… and all the way across the country.

An 18-year-old Sacramento kid jumped on MySpace looking for someone to talk to. A 21-year-old youth mentor from Jersey befriends him… a friendship that just might have saved his life.

MSNBC reports:

“I felt … he reached out to me for guidance and help,” New Jersey resident Jesse Coltrane said as he recalled the discussion he had via webcam with the Sacramento youth. “That’s what he said. He said, ‘I need someone to talk to. You’re the only one I feel as though I can talk to.'”

But Monday evening, things got a little more intense. My local Sacramento Bee tells the story:

About a month ago, the California teen asked to become Coltrane’s friend on the social-networking Web site MySpace. Such requests from strangers are not unusual for the 21-year-old Coltrane, who runs a modeling and entertainment agency and has more than 500 friends listed on the Web site.

The two got to know each other with a few phone calls and talked mostly about music, Coltrane said.

But the instant message Monday evening was unexpected. It read: “im thinkin abt commitn smtn dat wll hurt alota ppl.”

Coltrane’s response, according to his computer’s archives: “What is that.”

“I dnt really wana say but just know its not good.”

Coltrane: “Suicide.”

When the younger man answered yes, Coltrane dropped out of his online business meeting and communicated with him for about seven hours by telephone, instant message and webcam.

This is one of those stories where each article offers an additional insights. MSNBC reports that Coltrane contacted the police and told them that the boy was starting to cut his wrists. It’s a fascinating little article. Another snippet:

Officers went to the teen’s home at about 3:20 a.m., found the injured youth and took him to a county mental health clinic for a 72-hour evaluation.

Leong said the youth is expected to live.

Coltrane said he’s glad the teen is getting medical help.

Coltrane added he may have helped save the teen’s life, but said that he had little choice. He recalled how the teen told him that the suicide attempt was nobody’s else’s business.

“I said, ‘Well, it’s my business now, because you brung me into it,'” Coltrane added.

An expert on suicide prevention praised Coltrane for calling police.

I guess something good has come from MySpace.

Hmmmmm.

About Jonathan McKee

president of The Source for Youth Ministry, is the author of over twenty books including the brand new If I Had a Parenting Do Over, 52 Ways to Connect with Your Smartphone Obsessed Kid; Sex Matters; The Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket; and youth ministry books like Ministry By Teenagers; Connect; and the 10-Minute Talks series. He has over 20 years youth ministry experience and speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, TheSource4YM.com and TheSource4Parents.com. You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.
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