By Jen Kastner
MIDLAND- Four Midland teens have taken their own lives since last fall. A local suicide prevention page on Facebook has become a main resources for struggling teens. This weekend, it came under fire.
When McKalya Massey's brother, Brandon, ended his life, she created the page, "Teen Suicide-100% Preventable- Help Us." More than 1,700 people have joined.
It has now expanded outside of the Midland-Odessa area. There are people from all over the country writing on the wall.
The page is an open forum for discussion about emotional issues. Some say, it has become hard to control.
Since Saturday alone, someone asked, 'If you take an entire bottle of Tylenol, will you die? I'm honestly just wondering." A different member posted, "My friend is trying to kill herself." Another wrote, "I think I've failed at life."
Page Administrator Kris Wanner says supervising the site is a serious task.
Wanner says, "There have been several kids that we've had to call 911 on or try to get a hold of their parents because they're going to hurt themselves or try to kill themselves."
The site does not have contact information for all the members. On Saturday, an emergency notice went out advising members to send in phone numbers, addresses and parents' names and contact numbers. If they didn't comply, they'd be deleted. A backlash broke out. Members felt like their safe zone was being threatened. Or, they just didn't feel comfortable releasing that kind of information to strangers. The site backed down, apologizing and telling members it would not proceed.
It raises the question, should a site like this exist without the constant monitoring of law enforcement or counselors? Dr. Jeffrey Pinnow works in the emergency room at Medical Center Hospital. He says although the site's intentions are good, it still poses risks.
"Without having some sort of professional monitoring, it could be equally problematic," Pinnow said.
He says most truly suicidal teens withdraw and isolate themselves from society.
"I think the majority who are using the Facebook page probably are looking for the attention more so than actually being suicidal," Pinnow said.
However, he notes, one can never be too sure.
The site has contacted the police since it started.
"I've called two or three times. I know some of the other administrators have called probably two or three times themselves as well," Wanner said.
In total, at least ten 911 calls have gone out.