An alert by a Facebook employee based in Ireland to Delhi Police managed to save the life of a 27-year-old man, who was under financial strain due to coronavirus-induced lockdown and was showing 'suicidal activity' on the platform.
The man had posted content on Facebook that featured him preparing to end his life. This raised alarm on the social media platform. Facebook was apprehensive of any attempt to contact the man directly as they feared that this could further his suicide plans.
In a bid to save the man's life, the Facebook staffer contacted the DCP (Cyber), Delhi, Anyesh Roy as the phone number used for creating the account was registered in the national capital. The staffer shared details of the 'suicidal activity' with Roy on email at around 8 pm on Saturday. What ensued after this was a race against time for the Delhi police officials to prevent the man from ending his life.
Police reached a woman resident in East Delhi upon tracing the phone number, according to DCP Roy. Following this, DCP Roy contacted DCP (East) Jagmeet Singh and the latter immediately sent a team at the address but everything was fine at the residence.
The woman told the police that the Facebook account in question was used by her husband who had left for Mumbai two weeks ago after a small fight. The man was working as a cook in a small hotel in Mumbai. The woman had her husband's mobile number but did not have his address.
DCP Roy then got in touch with his counterpart in Mumbai, DCP (Cyber) Rashmi Karandikar but the man's contact number could not be traced. According to Karandikar, she received a phone call from Roy at around 11pm on Saturday, 3 hours after this matter was reported in Delhi. Following this, the biggest challenge for the Mumbai police officials was "to trace him and our priority was to reach him quickly because we were told he had put four videos of himself preparing to end his life by hanging."
Mumbai police requested the man's mother to contact him via WhatsApp video call in order to trace his exact location, but this call got disconnected after a single ring.
"The man contacted his mother through another number and that's how we traced his location. For an hour, one of my officers kept him engaged on a phone call and tried to convince him to not take any extreme step," according to a senior Mumbai police official. At around 01:30 am, police officials reached his location and counseled him.
In a conversation with the Mumbai police officials, the man told that he was under acute financial strain due to lockdown and had a fallout with his wife. He further said that he was worried about how to raise his recently born child and thus, decided to end his life.