Today while sitting in a doctor’s waiting room, I have perhaps the most bizarre and unsettling telephone call I have ever had in my life. My cell phone vibrates (I have it on vibrate since I can’t always hear it) and I look at it to see that I had a new message. I open the message, received at 9:22 AM, and here is what I read (It is preceded by a phone number which I will not share for what will quickly become obvious reasons):
“That’s it. Im done. Next time you see me I’ll be dead. The bridge isn’t far so don’t even try to convince me not to jump. Goodbye.“
All these messages are exactly as received on my phone.
I am stunned. The phone number is not one that I recognize and I quickly search through my contacts to see if it shows up there. No luck. After a couple of minutes, frantically thinking “What to do, what to do”, I respond, rather lamely; “Who are you?”
It occurs to me, as it already has to you, that it is highly likely that the whole thing is a hoax, but what if it’s not?
The next message: “Im sorry .. Wrong number. But I won’t be able to soon ..” That’s it. No explanation, no indication that the first message was false.
I walk over to the receptionist, who is busy speaking with a couple of other patients. I interrupt to say; “I think I have an emergency here. We need to call 911” … which is what happens as soon as the receptionist reads the message on my phone. She gives the 911 operator the phone number from the message, which we can see on my phone.
I text back; “Hold on, help is on the way”. Again. a little lame, but I am not used to being part of what may be a suicide help line.
Then I receive four messages in quick succession:
“No its okaii im fin”.
“Thank you !!!”.
“Im not going too”.
And finally “Thank you so much”.
After which, complete silence. No more messages. Nothing.
A couple of hours later, I try the number as a voice call. No-one picks up. I spend the rest of the day wondering if the call was genuine or not, whether I did the right thing or not. I toy with the idea of calling 911 to find out what happened but decide not to. They don’t need nuisance calls based on my curiosity.
Just before dinner time, we get a call at home from the police. The messages were from a 12-year-old girl, in between periods in a classroom, who dialled three random numbers with the same message. Not a serious message (I don’t think). The police person told me that all three of us called 911, which activated a major exercise. Police to the girl’s home and school and to the parents’ place of work. The young lady in question will be dealt with by her parents. I am thinking cell phone suspension and a period of grounding, as well as a discussion about spreading alarm in the community.
I am personally heartened by the fact that all the people she contacted then called 911 to try to help. Says good things about our community.