06/25/2013 01:26 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Suicide Prevention Number Connects Instead To Lowell Hotel In New York City Because Of 1-800 Mixup

Desperation was calling. But help wasn't there.

Because of an advertising mixup, callers dialing a suicide hotline in Singapore reached a posh New York City hotel instead.

According to employees at The Lowell in Manhattan, the hotel began receiving unusual calls recently that had nothing to do with making reservations. One caller was hysterical that her brother was going to kill himself, a Lowell employee told The Huffington Post. Other employees mentioned similar conversations, she said.

The confusion apparently stemmed from the 1-800 number included on a Samaritans of Singapore public service ad on Ads of the World, a display platform for the advertising industry. The 11-digit number listed for the 24-hour help line at Samaritans of Singapore matched The Lowell's 1-800 number, prompting the urgent calls to the hotel.

The phone number has been deleted from the Ads of the World site, and another hotel employee said Monday that the calls have stopped. However, the numbers listed on The Lowell's site and the Samaritans of Singapore site remain the same.

Neither the hotel, the Samaritans organization nor Publicis, the ad agency behind the campaign, returned requests for comment.

Nevertheless, the ad campaign received a rave review in AdWeek for its "clever" visuals: The words "I'm fine," when viewed upside down, become "Save me."

The tagline at Ads of the World read, "I'm fine. Save me. The signs are there if you read them. Help us save a life before it's too late. Call 1800-*******."

Now that the number has been removed, hopefully people in crisis won't be steered in the wrong direction.
suicide prevention