Internet friends are wonderful and over the years I’ve had a fair few. Some, like dear old Mairi Mac Arthur and Rhino Water later go on to be real life friends too and it makes me very happy when that happens. But, just as with any relationship, things don’t always go smoothly and I once had a rather stressful occurrence in my interactions with one of my internet friends,
    I had made a new internet friend towards the end of 2011 and the pair of us had gotten to know each other quite well in some time. I don’t want to disclose too much about this person, but I learned fairly early on that she was suffering with depression and fairly often she’d be feeling especially sad about life and come online to talk to me about things. I always thought, based on things she said, that I gave rather helpful responses, but it seems I was quite wrong.
    One unhappy evening I was speaking to her and she told me that not only was she feeling suicidal but, in her head, she was definitely going to kill herself. A similar thing happened once before, and I resolved it quite quickly, so I hoped I could do so again. This time, however, things weren’t so easily restored. Every single night I’d have a long talk with her about why suicide was a bad idea; I told her how upset it would make me, and how upset it’d make everyone she knew, how life would improve with time, but nothing worked. I felt that, if I had known her in real life, I could perhaps have been more useful, but it was quite an awful feeling of uselessness at the time.
    Then, all of a sudden, she was gone. She stopped coming online and I was just left to wonder what might have happened. How would you know if somebody you know only over the internet died? Of course, I stayed optimistic about it, but I just couldn’t shake off a feeling of guilt. To the best of my knowledge, I was the only person she’d told; why hadn’t I then found all of her friends on Facebook and alerted them? But, at that point, it seemed there was nothing to be done. I saw somebody post on her Facebook page and allude to something bad having happened. I hate to appear so pessimistic, but I assumed the worst.
    But I was wrong! Months later she came back online and it seemed the post on her wall was referring to something much more insignificant. The best thing of all was that her suicidal thoughts were gone, she had been able to make herself happier alone. While I may have been unable to help her, she was instead able to help herself and that’s an infinitely better resolution than any I could have made happen myself.
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