Man Discovers Teen Suicide Live on Web

Caller from New Jersey alerted authorities

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- A man across the country tipped Sacramento police about a teenager attempting to commit suicide during an online conversation, authorities said Tuesday.

Sacramento police were able to track down the 18-year-old and take him into custody for his own protection, Sgt. Norm Leong said.

"I felt ... he reached out to me for guidance and help," New Jersey resident Jesse Coltrane said as he recalled the discussion he had via webcam with the Sacramento youth. "That's what he said. He said, 'I need someone to talk to. You're the only one I feel as though I can talk to.'"

Leong said local police dispatchers received a call at 11:48 p.m. Monday from Coltrane, who told authorities that the Sacramento teen was starting to cut his wrists.

"I did tell him, though, when I was talking to him that when he first started, that I (would) call the police station," said Coltrane, who added that he befriended the teen about a month ago on MySpace.

Coltrane provided police with the teen's cell phone number.

Police did research and ultimately found the youth's address in Del Paso Heights, Leong added.


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Officers went to the teen's home at about 3:20 a.m., found the injured youth and took him to a county mental health clinic for a 72-hour evaluation.

Leong said the youth is expected to live.

Coltrane said he's glad the teen is getting medical help.

Coltrane added he may have helped save the teen's life, but said that he had little choice. He recalled how the teen told him that the suicide attempt was nobody's else's business.

"I said, 'Well, it's my business now, because you brung me into it,'" Coltrane added.

An expert on suicide prevention praised Coltrane for calling police.

"He actually did the right thing," said Dr. Jonathan Porteus, who is head of clincal services for The Effort, a Sacramento treatment center. "It is better to regret what you did do than regret what you did not do."

In November, a Florida youth died in his bed of a drug overdose as others watched over the Internet. Authorities in that case said some of those watching online actually encouraged that youth to take more drugs. A good deal of time passed before someone called police to report the death.

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