A friend he’d never met in person but who he’d been playing online video games with for over a decade.
Phil Poirier is from Labrador City. He currently lives in Wabush.
Poirier received a one sentence private Facebook message from his friend. The five word sentence left him concerned for his friend’s mental wellness.
“Don’t be mad at me,” the message read.
Poirier had just driven from his home in Labrador West to his parents’ home in New Brunswick to start his vacation. It was in the middle of the night when the message came in.
“I just got in bed from a long day travelling... It didn’t seem like (his friend) was going to do anything for himself so I tried to do what I could,” Poirier said during a recent phone interview.
Poirier’s friend told him that he’d taken whatever pills he could find around his apartment.
“He told me he’d taken about 100 pills and all of his anti-depression medication for the month. We exchanged a few more messages. He told me that he was in bed with his cat. I told him to get to the hospital. He just replied with ‘probably.’”
Poirier sensed getting to the hospital wasn’t a concern for his friend. He suspects the pills may have already taken effect and his friend may not have been totally aware of what was happening.
“I even asked him if he’d call 911 for me.”
A former ski patroller, with experience in first aid, Poirier knew his friend – who lives in Virginia - wasn’t in a position to help himself.
Therefore, he felt he had to do whatever he could to get him medical attention as soon as possible while keeping his friend alert as much as he could by continuing to message with him.
“I needed to know what exactly he’d taken in a case I had to tell anyone. I was just messaging him and going through his friends’ list on Facebook for anyone living in Virginia. I probably sent off six or seven messages before I got a response from someone.”
Poirier eventually received a message saying that police had been called and that emergency responders were on their way to get his friend.
“A little bit after that I got messages that he was in the hospital and that they were going to pump his stomach. That’s where I left it that night.”
Poirier had good reason to fall asleep, exhausted.
“I’d been travelling and I’d worked the day before. I got off at five o’clock and pretty much didn’t sleep because I was excited to go on vacation. I left Lab City at three in the morning and got into New Brunswick almost 24 hours after that. So, I’d been up almost 42 hours by the time I went to sleep.”
After his friend was admitted to hospital, Poirier received messages from members of his friend’s family as well as his friend’s roommate.
“His sister messaged me and thanked me and I heard from his mom. We (Poirier and his friend’s mother) chatted on Facebook for 15 minutes or so.”
Poirier also heard from his friend who, he said, was still in hospital at the time but was getting ready to be released.
“I told him hopefully he’d get better and get the helps he needs now. He’s a great guy. I’ve gotten to know him pretty well over the past 12 years.”
After his friend’s suicide attempt, Poirier said, all of those who had been playing Xbox video games together went online for a group chat to talk about what had happened.
“A lot of them live in the U.S. so some could call him in the hospital and wish him a recovery.”
Poirier’s home community of Labrador West has been in the news recently for its spike in suicides.
He lost a high school friend through suicide, he said.
And although Poirier’s recent relentless efforts to save his American friend’s life likely did just that – he is humble about what happened.
He didn’t do anything special, he said. Rather did what he hopes anyone would do.
“I can understand people might be afraid that the person (in trouble) might be mad at them (for intervening). But, it’s like someone said to me the other day, it’s better to lose a friend because they’re mad with you then lose a friend when you could have done something about it.”