11/15/2013 06:38 pm ET Updated Nov 24, 2014

Thomas Michaels, Port Authority Lieutenant, Uses Facebook To Prevent New Jersey Teen's Suicide Attempt

We may sometimes doubt the virtues of Facebook, but this week, the site proved its worth when a New Jersey teen's online cry for help was answered by police.

On Tuesday, an unidentified 18-year-old college student posted a picture of the George Washington Bridge to his Facebook page along with the the caption, "I'm thinking of jumping," the New York Daily News reports.

A Facebook friend called local police who then notified the Port Authority Police Department.

Then, a Port Authority lieutenant did something unprecedented.

After distributing pictures of the student to officers patrolling the bridge, Lt. Thomas Michaels messaged the teen on Facebook, according to the New York Post.

Hours later, Michaels received a call from the distressed young man, who was on a public bus en route to the bridge.

"I picked up and heard it was him, and I almost fell out of my chair," Michaels told NBC News.

The teen confessed to Michaels that he was “having housing issues” and “was on the verge of homelessness," the NY Post reports. But the lieutenant was able to convince him to get off the bus and turn himself over to authorities, who took him to a hospital for evaluation.

“This is the first time there was an interchange between one of our officers and a suicidal individual on social media,” Port Authority spokesman Joe Pentangelo said, according to NBC. “It is a huge success.”



Ordinary Heroes, Extraordinary Courage