Hometown Heroes: Facebook Friends Save Teen from Suicide

Friends use Facebook to avert a student’s suicide.

Ramirez, right, with Manes
Helping a troubled teen “was the scariest experience of my life,” says Ramirez, right, with Manes. (Photo courtesy of Mike Sweeney/Pueblos Chieftain)

Call it a lifesaving twist of fate: One night in February, Danny Manes, 17, and Gary Ramirez, 19, were chatting online about the best way to reach at-risk kids, when they came across a teen’s Facebook status that expressed suicidal feelings. “He was posting apologies and goodbyes on his friends’ walls,” remembers Ramirez. Manes and Ramirez, who live in Pueblo, Colorado, were Facebook friends but had never met.

The boys each sent private messages to the troubled teen, who went to Manes’s high school, asking him to reconsider. “We chatted for hours,” says Manes. When the boy typed that he still planned to end his life, Ramirez called the police, who arrived at the boy’s home in time to save him. The next day, the boy texted Ramirez: “If it weren’t for you, I’d be dead right now.” “To know that this kid’s life was in our hands was really scary,” says Ramirez.

The boys have since created a teen-suicide-prevention page on Facebook, Hopeline4Teens, and Twitter and Tumblr accounts for EncourageTheYouth, another place where kids can ask for advice, post their thoughts, and support other kids.

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