Omaha gamer saves life of friend experiencing crisis

When his friend began posting alarming things on social media, Nathan Baker jumped into action.
As National Suicide Prevention Month comes to a close, we're recognizing the importance of reaching out when we think a loved one may need help.
Published: Sep. 28, 2022 at 10:41 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - An Omaha gamer is being credited with potentially saving the life of a long-distance friend who was experiencing a mental health crisis.

Nathan Baker, 16, is a Millard West sophomore and in his free time, he spends time with his friends playing video games. Through gaming, Baker has developed a network of online friends from around the country.

One of those friends is John — 6 News is using a false name in order to protect John’s identity.

“I met him about a year and a half ago,” Baker says. “I started playing games with him more and more and that spiraled into the friendship we have now where we’ve never seen each other in person but we’re still great friends.”

The two talk almost daily, along with several other friends, too.

Several weeks ago, Baker says John went through a breakup and was struggling to cope. Baker noticed a change in John’s behavior and says he began posting ‘cryptic’ messages on his social media platforms.

“It went from silly to very serious and I was worried about him,” Baker says.

“I was telling him, like, if you ever need to talk to anyone I’m here, I’d rather you wake me up at three in the morning and talk with me than you do anything to harm yourself.”

Over the weekend, Baker says John wasn’t responding to him. Concerned for John’s life, Baker sought out advice from his father, Chris. The family made the decision to contact police in Dallas, where John said he was visiting family.

Baker says he was able to find John’s exact location since they are friends on the Snapchat app.

“They sent an officer and throughout the entire time I was talking with the dispatcher, I made sure they knew where he was, I gave an accurate description of his location and appearance and what was happening,” Baker says.

After hanging up the phone came the most nerve-wracking 45 minutes of Baker’s life. But finally, he got a callback.

“When I got that call and heard that he was okay, it was a huge load off my shoulders,” Baker says with a sigh of relief.

Thanks to Baker’s concerns, John got connected with the resources he needed. John’s family reached out to Baker to thank him for bringing the situation to their awareness.

“It’s really hard to come forward face to face, so people often turn to social media,” says Sadie Hinkle with The Kim Foundation, an Omaha-based non-profit focused on education and resources when it comes to a mental health crisis and suicide prevention.

Hinkle says Baker took all the right steps.

“It can be really awkward and uncomfortable to talk to your loved one about what they’re going through, but we encourage everyone to push past that awkwardness, seize it, embrace it because ultimately that person’s life is more important,” Hinkle adds.

Baker says John was grateful for the steps he took, but even if that wasn’t the case, he says it would still be a win.

“I’d rather someone be mad at me than not have them at all.”

If you or someone you know is experiencing a crisis or is at risk, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7 by calling 988.