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Twitter Users Help Police Prevent Suicide in Seoul

Posted July. 27, 2010 13:31,   


Around 10:57 p.m. Saturday, the National Police Agency received a tip about a suicide note left on the Twitter account of “polinlove.” After getting similar reports, the administrator of the agency’s Twitter account tried to confirm the rumor.

The account of a 27-year-old woman that was reported to police had a message saying, “I’ve prepared all the necessary equipment for suicide. The only thing left for me to do is die. I’ll be comfortable soon, right?”

The administrator immediately reported the finding to the agency’s investigation bureau and the cyber investigation team of the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency. After trying to track the woman’s location in Seoul’s northern district of Nowon, the National Police Agency informed Nowon police, which were aware of the news after receiving a similar report.

Twitter users near the woman provided her telephone number, which led to police finding her address. The suicidal woman had posted messages on Twitter about her planned suicide from 3:12 a.m. Sunday.

Around 5:25 a.m., a police officer visited her house and asked her to open the door. She refused in claiming her right to privacy, and the officer left after seeing she was safe.

“We can do nothing more if you refuse to open the door for us,” the officer told her, adding later, “I asked a security guard at her apartment to inform police of any unusual event and to keep checking up on her.”

The process in which police found her was relayed through Twitter in real time. Twitter users who reported the woman to police asked to be kept informed of the situation, and the police did so. After the National Police Agency posted a message saying the woman was located and found to be safe, some 30 Twitter messages came up thanking the police.

An official at the National Police Agency, however, expressed worry over false Twitter reports and stressed that the agency’s Twitter account is not linked to the official system through which it receives reports. The official asked that people report emergencies by calling 112.