A cop’s heroic actions on a busy overpass bridge in Raleigh, N.C. gained national attention, but so did the upsetting back story that prompted the incident to happen.
According to reports, a deaf girl was seen on the bridge threatening to kill herself, and authorities were called to the scene. Witnesses claim a police officer communicated with the girl using sign language for a good 30 minutes before he was finally able to coax her off the bridge safely. The girl was then taken to crisis center to be treated.
“It’s good that he knew sign language, I feel like more people need to learn it,” Sean Day, a witness, said of the situation in an interview with WNCN. “It shows that he had a lot of patience and he didn’t let whatever he had on his mind interfere with what was going on.”
But what prompted that 16-year-old to run to that bridge in the first place? Her mother, Maria Daily, said that social media was mostly to blame.
“This child, she feels alone,” her mother said in an interview with local station WRAL. “I try to tell her it’s dangerous, but she says not to listen to me.”
Daily said that for her daughter, who normally feels isolated as she cannot hear nor speak, found the online community to be a welcoming space for her. She wanted to meet online friends in person, worrying her mother, who confiscated her daughter’s phone temporarily.
That’s when her daughter wrote down that she was going to get hit by a car and ran to Rock Quarry Road bridge.
It’s a story that is unfortunately all too common in today’s ultra-connected society. Social media users, especially younger ones, are often unaware of the dangers lurking beneath internet interactions. Apps like Kik in particular have been coming under fire recently for an increasing number of cases where younger teens are contacted by much older men. While chat room predators have been around for about as long as chat rooms have existed, the problem it seems is only getting worse as more outlets for online dating and hookups are being created (and available to teens of all ages—because let’s face it, age restrictions online are easily bypassed). And perhaps the only way to combat this growing trend is better information.
Daily says she just wished there could have been better resources specifically for her daughter, so they know just what’s at stake when you talk to someone online.
“(There are) not that many services out there for her, for people like her, for deaf people her age,” said Daily.