Mt. Vernon Register-News

Opinion

July 9, 2011

Sometimes, the doing the right thing can hurt

When you are growing up, everyone tells you that doing the right thing is supposed to make you feel good.

But I think part of growing up is realizing, occasionally, doing the right thing only feels slightly less awful than doing the wrong thing.

I’m not talking about choosing a salad over a burrito, though Lord knows I could stand to make a few more of those “right choices.” I’m talking about the hard times, when you have to consult everything within yourself, your code of ethics and your best friend before you can make a decision.

Recently I had to make one of those hard choices.

A woman I know through a social networking Web site was making plans to kill herself. She wrote about the method and later wrote simply, “This is it.”

Alarmed by how serious she sounded, I sent her a message, saying that I would be online to listen if she wanted.

Simultaneously, I was talking to my best friend. “What should I do?” I wondered, my heart racing as each minute ticked by after the young woman’s ominous post.

I’d never been in such a situation before, wanting to help but nowhere within reach of the person in pain. At a loss, I Googled “What do I do if someone wants to kill herself?”

A site with a variety of suicide help hotlines popped up, and I dialed the first one on the list. The advocate on the other end told me to call the police.

Again, I consulted my best friend. Should I call the police? What if this woman gets mad at me?

She simply said, “How will you feel if you don’t?”

When I called the police, the dispatcher said there was nothing they could do without a phone number.

This is where the story gets cringe-worthy for me. I asked the woman for her phone number, asking her if she’d like to talk. When she gave me her number, I gave it to the dispatchers without telling her what I was doing.

About half an hour later, I was on the receiving end of a very angry series of posts and texts from the woman, telling me what I’d done was unnecessary and rude. She said though she talked about suicide, she wouldn’t actually do it.

I feel I had to trust my instincts in this case. I hoped she wouldn’t try, but I was sincerely concerned for her life.

The moral of the story for me, I suppose, is that there’s no fabled glow from doing “the right thing,” but I think I’d rather my Internet friend be furious with me than gone.

Rorye O’Connor is a Register-News reporter. Contact her at rorye.oconnor@register-news.com

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Remember the pledge Editor:The county board chairman is not being factual with his recent comments concerning the Public Safety Tax Pledge made by the 2004-2010 County Board.First of all, the debt we were facing was caused by the foolish actions of nine board members of

    July 31, 2014

  • Back to the future for death penalty? The surreal national debate over the death penalty reached a climax of sorts July 23 in a prison execution chamber in Florence, Arizona. Double murderer Joseph Wood was put to death by lethal injection shortly after his lawyers went to the Supreme Co

    July 31, 2014

  • Reduce property tax Editor:The regular July meeting of the Rend Lake Conservancy District Board of Trustees is always interesting, and this year was no different. It is at this meeting that the board makes the annual tax levy for the district. Like every year, the debat

    July 31, 2014

  • Away from the tyranny ‘Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency,” the late poet Maya Angelou reflected in an interview with USA Today in 1988. “We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous or honest.”What a poem Angelou might have written about

    July 31, 2014

  • No Headline Provided House and Senate conferees have agreed on a $17 billion bill to address the scandal over poor health-care service at the Department of Veterans Affairs. The legislation is now on a fast track to pass Congress before its August recess, showing that Re

    July 31, 2014

  • Shackled by 'dead men' In theory, the American people’s elected representatives decide every so often how much to tax the public and how to allocate the revenue among various priorities, both short-term and long-term. In practice, however, Congress and the president have a

    July 31, 2014

  • Close the tax loophole that sends US corporations overseas Since we last overhauled our federal tax code, in 1986, countries around the world have lowered their tax rates, leaving the United States with the highest corporate tax rate in the developed word. At the same time, the system has become full of inef

    July 29, 2014

  • Israel and the U.S.: Whose survival instinct is stronger? There’s something darkly coincidental in the fact that the latest weapon to be deployed against the survival instinct of both Israel and the United States is an alleged “heartlessness” when it comes to children. The people of Israel are castigated in

    July 29, 2014

  • College cost isn't big problem for poor students To judge by this summer’s banner policy proposals, the most important question for higher-education reform right now is giving students easier access to loans. But evidence from Canada suggests those changes won’t address the greater need: Getting mo

    July 29, 2014

  • Ducks, geese a blessing I would like to respond to the “Geese and ducks causing problems in Veterans Park” article that was published in the Mt. Vernon Register-News on July 16, 2014. I must share that I do understand that at times there have been a great number of the Cana

    July 29, 2014

Twitter Updates
Facebook
Stocks