James Woods used Twitter to help a veteran who was contemplating suicide
By CYDNEY HENDERSON | USA Today | Published: November 20, 2018
ORLANDO, Fla. (Tribune News Service) — Actor James Woods used his Twitter account to call attention and help to a distressed veteran who was contemplating suicide.
The "Salvador" actor, 71, alerted the Orlando Police Department Monday night and asked authorities to perform a wellness check on former Marine Andrew MacMasters.
"A man named Andrew MacMasters just said on @Twitter that he is sitting in a parking lot and is going to kill himself," Wood tweeted to his nearly 2 million followers. "He’s sitting with his dog, a black lab, possibly in a WalMart parking lot."
Woods' plea for help included a screenshot from MacMasters' Twitter account, which has since been deleted.
"I'm on Twitter every day, I retweet all the time but this is the first tweet I've ever written," user @macmasters_a tweeted Thursday. "I'm (a) good guy, I'm a veteran, I love America. I'm gonna kill myself tonight. I've lost everything I have nobody, nobody cares."
Woods responded to MacMasters' cry for help in a series of tweets, initially asking the veteran to "tell me where you are."
"We can talk. I don’t care what anybody thinks. Do you? Let’s have a conversation. Just you… and I," Woods said in one tweet to MacMasters, adding in another, "I’m following you now, so you can DM me. We can talk privately. Or we can talk openly right here. Lot of people worried about you right now."
The actor tried to engage the distraught veteran: "Someone said you’re Andrew. In Orlando? Im not trying to trap you. Let’s just talk. You also have your dog. Your little schnoot. Boy or girl?"
"So think about this. A lot of vets, I understand, have come to where you are tonight," Woods continued. "If you could just push this decision off tonight, at least, maybe you would also inspire another vet to seek help. You could save another man, too. By waiting to do this."
In 2016, the most recent data available, the Department of Veterans Affairs said about 20 veterans a day take their own lives, a suicide rate 1.5 times greater than for Americans who never served in the military. And veterans accounted for 14 percent of all adult suicide deaths in the U.S. in 2016, even though only 8 percent of the population has served.
In a last-ditch effort, the actor tried to comfort MacMasters. "I’m driving cross country. Sitting in a motel room. I have all night. I know that sounds dorky, but here I am! I would love to talk. Just talk. I won’t push you into anything," he said.
Once it was clear the suicidal veteran could no longer be reached on Twitter after deleting his social media account, Woods turned to his followers to gather information on MacMasters' location.
The "Casino" actor learned his home address and forward it to authorities in Maitland, Florida, who promptly checked his residence. MacMasters was not there.
"If only Andrew could see the THOUSANDS of fellow Americans who are pulling for him. It’s like he’s lost behind enemy lines and we are cheering him home, willing him to survive," Woods tweeted. "Andrew, do this for the 'other 21' vets a day who don’t make it home from the darkness. Stay alive!"
Woods continued to update the search on Twitter, sharing tweets from people who notified MacMasters' family, including the veteran's mother and brother.
Maitland Police Public Information Officer Lt. Louis Y. Grindle informed USA TODAY Tuesday morning that authorities were able to reach MacMasters, though his whereabouts are unknown.
"Our agency was able to make contact with him by phone earlier this morning, where he advised he was OK but did not wish to have contact with law enforcement," the emailed statement read. "Our officers are still working to try and physically locate him to determine his well-being."
Woods, who frequently uses his Twitter page to share his conservative political views, recently used his account to help link people together with family members following the California wildfires.