How Mumbai team of 6 cyber cops is foiling suicide bids and saving lives | India News – Times of India

MUMBAI: Police inspector Suvarna Shinde punched the keys on her phone urgently. Her colleagues in the Cyber Police had handed her the number of a youth who had put a social media post announcing his plan to end life. The boy, from a village in Solapur, was upset after failing an exam.
“Come on yaar, you cannot think of killing yourself just because you’ve failed. I had failed too when I was young. Had I given up, I wouldn’t be a police officer today,” Shinde said to the boy, chatting informally as a friend would. The talk cheered him up: by the time the conversation ended he had promised to delete the post.
Shinde is part of a team of six from the Cyber Police that has been acting on alerts shared by tech company Meta about Facebook or Instagram users posting suicidal thoughts. Meta closely monitors text, videos and images — ranging from a ceiling fan to a knife to poison or pills — that may signal a user’s intention to take the drastic step.
Between January and April 2023, the Cyber Police has thus averted 31 suicide bids across India. This work of tackling alerts is done alongside their regular job of solving online crimes.
At odd hours, sometimes as early as 3am, sub-inspector Dhanvish Patil from the Cyber Police can be found glued to his phone. Patil’s job is to receive inputs from Meta round-the-clock and share them on a WhatsApp group. “Meta sends us a copy of the post along with details of the user and a phone number associated with his account, if any,” says Patil. The team then gets down to work.
If the user’s phone number is readily available, Shinde calls to counsel the individual in distress. If there’s no phone number or if it is switched off, team members analyse the user’s IP address to find his location. They contact the police station closest to his residence and request officers to pay him a visit.
Inputs from Meta are not restricted to Facebook users from Maharashtra alone.
In one instance, a Varanasi resident uploaded a video clip where he could be seen offering some kind of liquid to his children. The kids were refusing it and were pleading with their father to not consume it either. Shinde immediately got on the phone with the man, asking him what was wrong and how could she help. Police were concerned that consumption of the liquid could prove fatal for the family. The man said his wife had left him to move in with her paramour. He believed that posting a video clip of their children would make her regret her actions and return. After his conversation with Shinde, he agreed to take down the video.
“It’s immensely satisfying for us to see that our interventions are helping save lives,” said DCP (Cyber) Balsingh Rajput.
The Cyber Police have a unique set of challenges. If an individual in distress is located in a remote area, finding the nearest police station and getting hold of officers may take time. Moreover, individuals may react in unexpected ways if uniformed personnel land up at their house, particularly if the family is unaware of their social media post. Cases have to be handled with utmost sensitivity.
In one incident in February, a farmer’s son, who had posted online about ending his life over his failed career, kept moving to different locations through the night. The Cyber Police had informed the crime branch who pursued him for nine hours before finally catching up with him at Karjat.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *