This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2006, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Less than two hours after a 21-year-old man walked into an Orem library Monday and posted a suicide note on an Internet message board, police found him close to death in his apartment.
A woman who read the message, the library director, a computer tech, two police officers and paramedics - none of whom knew the young man - are being credited with saving his life.
Though many individuals posting messages to the utrave.org bulletin board disregarded the man's cry for help, the woman took it seriously and started a chain of events that drew strangers together in a desperate scramble to help the suicidal man.
The farewell message was posted by user "Ifi" at 12:23 p.m. While chatters bantered back and forth, showing a mix of concern and disgust about his post, a woman, who prefers only to be known as Julie and uses the screen name "Phoenix," tracked the origins of the suicide note to the Orem City Library using an Internet Protocol address.
She called the library's general circulation number and was transferred to Louise Wallace, the library's director.
"She was very concerned. It was obvious that she took it seriously and that she didn't consider it a prank," said Wallace, who called police at 1:14 p.m.
Officers responding to the call were met with seemingly insurmountable odds. While those using public computers are required to register for each machine they access, the IP address which led police to the library didn't specify exactly which computer the message was from, said Wallace. Knowing only the time of the post, the gender of the user and his age, computer technician Clark Hoover was able to narrow the list of possible subjects to four names.
With concern for the man growing in the messages of the bulletin board, Julie stayed involved. She researched the man's posting history and uncovered a past peppered with heroin use as well as a recent post stating that he had "taken all his meds and it was just a matter of time."
She phoned the library again to share her find.
Orem police officer Terry Steele researched the four names and found one with an arrest for the use of heroin, said Lt. Doug Edwards. Steele and officer Art Lopez went to the last known address of the subject but were told by the man's mother that he no longer lived there. She directed them to his apartment a few blocks from the library.
Unable to get anyone to answer the door at the apartment, the officers were about to hoist a ladder to an open upstairs bedroom when the man's roommate, claiming that he had been in the shower and couldn't hear their knocking, opened the door.
The officers found the man slumped on the couch. He was cold to the touch, not breathing and had no detectable pulse.
Disappointed that they had arrived too late, the officers were preparing to make a report of a death when one of them noticed a slight movement from the victim.
At 2:46 p.m. they summoned paramedics, who rushed the man to Utah Valley Regional Medical Center. By 5 p.m. he had regained consciousness and appeared to be recovering well, Edwards said.
"Suicide is almost always a permanent solution to a temporary problem," said Edwards.
Wallace down-played her involvement in saving the man's life.
"Well, heavens, I'm happy that we were able to help. It's a tragic circumstance and certainly something that is sobering to all of us."
Steele agreed and told Edwards on Tuesday morning, "I was just doing my job."