Some people long for small-town life — to live in a heartwarming place where everyone knows your name and your neighbors have your back. But these days, one could argue that the whole world is like one, well-connected community. At least that’s what a New Jersey teen found out recently.
The girl had been struggling. She was clearly spiraling down, with signs of depression all over her Tumblr blog. And it certainly didn’t help that she was the victim of bullying, with nasty, menacing messages directed at her on the site. This was pretty clear to reader Jackie Rosas of Cathedral City, CA. After a year of following her blog, Rosas knew that the young writer must be suffering. And then one day in early May, she read something that made her blood run cold: The girl published a post threatening to kill herself.
Rosas, herself a teenager at age 18, had the gut instinct that this was no empty threat. But what could she do? She didn’t know the writer’s last name or even what part of the country she lived in. All she had was the girl’s first name, her blog’s URL and knowledge that she was in her school’s color guard. Armed with only that, Rosas called a suicide hotline and then reached out to her local police.
What happened next was amazing. A race against the clock ensued, stretching across the country, with people pulling together over the next eight hours to try and find the girl before she ended her life.
The Cathedral City police took the case around 5pm and then contacted a local high school. Unfortunately, the administrators didn’t recognize the blog pic, but Assistant Principal Karen Dimick took the photo and used it to find the girl’s Twitter account. Turns out, she had tweeted in November about a “UHS marching band.” With that acronym, Dimick and Officer Heather Olsen researched further online and came up with a key newspaper article: UHS referred to a school in Union Township, NJ. So, at 1:30am, Cathedral City police reached out to their fellow officers across the country.
Police servicing Union Township were dispatched to a local address, where they located the girl. She had already swallowed several pills, but luckily, they arrived in time to get her medical attention. She was then hospitalized following the incident.
The next day, word reached Cathedral City, and everyone who was involved in the search — including Rosas — was happy and relieved at the news. “I kind of cried,” says Rosas. “I was happy to know that I saved someone’s life. It happened at random and it’s an amazing feeling knowing you are able to help someone from thousands of miles away.”