Port Authority PD, Social Media Saved Possible Suicide Attempt in New Jersey

The George Washington Bridge and two angels in PAPD clothing

For all those old codgers in PR who believe social media have no place in the workplace, may I present this story from CNN presented by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police Department.

Got your attention, yet, you gomers?

Imagine trolling through Facebook to see what your disgruntled ex is doing on a Saturday, and you come across this alarming information in your timeline:

“Thinking of jumping,” an unnamed 18-year-old posted to his Facebook profile, alongside a photo of the George Washington Bridge spanning the Hudson River.

That disturbing post caused some friend to drop the Cheetos and the remote to call police in Paterson, N.J., who in turn alerted the Port Authority Police Department about 1 p.m. Tuesday, according to the PAPD. What happened next is anything short of a viral miracle…

Port Authority Police immediately searched the bridge looking for this hurting soul. They even pinged his cellphone but got nothing. That’s when Lt. Thomas Michaels (right in the picture) reached out via Facebook.

Lt. Michaels didn’t get a response but friends of this kid — along with PAPD Sgt. Nadine Rehm (left in the picture) — sent other messages on his timeline urging him to reconsider.

“Call Lt. Michaels,” one Facebook post said. “Just call the lieutenant,” said another post. A couple of hours later, Lt. Michaels’ phone rings. Guess who?

The young man tells Michaels that he was on a bus in Patterson, and was strongly urged to meet Michaels in person. He agreed. After a few hours over a warm meal, the troubled teenager who “was having housing issues” and “was on the verge of homelessness” volunteered to be taken to a local hospital for help.

Cyberbullying. Mockery run-amuck. Countless selfies. And the occasional phallic picture.

Social media is abused like many things online, but when placed in the right hands, it can be used for good as well. It can even save lives. Much respect to the Port Authority PD’s angels, Lt. Thomas Michaels and Sgt. Nadine Rehm.

The Internet is better because of you. So is one nameless teenager.