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What Happened When I Ran Into the Cop Who Saved Me From Suicide

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It was just a normal night by most standards. I went to work, I went home, then I tried to kill myself. Everyone was so surprised — except for one police officer. A city cop, he routinely stopped by where I worked a night shift as a security officer to check on my well-being, and see how things were going. He also happened to teach a criminal justice class I took. None of that could have possibly prepared him for the 24 hours that would follow.

He stopped by work like always, and he knew something was off. Something about the way I spoke, the way I acted — it was out of character for a usually diligent and respectful young woman with ambitions of becoming an officer and a detective one day. I was rude, short tempered and generally dismissive. He waved it off and left me to do my work — but unbeknownst to me, he noticed.

When I got off work that morning, I sent him a text saying thanks for everything — and goodbye. That text would have meant nothing to anyone else. But call it cop intuition, or maybe just human intuition — he knew. He knew, and he called me immediately. Like a true pro, he never let on that he had immediately dispatched half the county to find me, because he knew I was in trouble, and I was scared. He talked to me without pushing me, doing his best to get whatever information out of me he could, but more than anything, trying to keep me from losing consciousness. Eventually, though, I did.

I was beyond surprised to open my eyes and find myself in a hospital, staring at him across from me, leaning against the wall looking both concerned and relieved. I had no idea that many, many hours had passed. Days. It could have been months and I wouldn’t have known. I didn’t remember anything, and I still don’t. They found me unconscious. The rest went about as well as any emergency of that kind ever does. But I lived, all because of him.

Fast forward over a decade later. I had moved, we had lost touch, but I had never forgotten. I returned to my home town and started working for the local sports team. Thanks to the power of social media, a message landed on my computer one day: “Remember me?” I ignored it for a while. Until I pulled up the random stranger’s profile and got the shock of my life.

It was him.

I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Was this real?

He was coming to a game, and there was no way I could pass up that chance. I was so nervous. I still don’t know why — but when someone basically finds you dead, it’s easy to be nervous about meeting up with them a decade later and trying to explain what (if anything) you’ve done with your life.

I actually ran in to him (literally) on the concourse, walking with his son who was an infant last I saw I pictures of him. There he was — the cop who saved my life. Without thinking, I hugged him straight away. It was as if the time hadn’t passed.

We caught up, about his life, his kids, his job. I was so proud of how well his life was going, I sort of forgot how we actually knew each other. Then he commented on how well I seemed, and one offhand remark on my part brought reality right back. “Well it helps to be well medicated” I told him. He asked me what I was medicated for. And as if it was the most natural thing in the world, I told him: depression. Then he asked the hardest question of the night: “So you still struggle with that?”

I wanted to take back what I had said. I wanted to pretend my life was as in order as it seemed. But he said it with genuine compassion — not pity. So I told him the truth. Yes, I still struggle with depression, and I probably always will. Yes, I have a psychiatrist, and I take medication, still. Yes, to all of it.

But it didn’t faze him. He reminded me how strong I am, and how far I have come. He told me he was proud of me. I didn’t feel like I earned that word, but he was proud of me for surviving, and living. He was proud I was still fighting. He was proud I had never given up.

There is something truly humbling about when someone physically saves you from death. You realize how fragile you are, but it doesn’t take something superhuman to change the course of your life. All it took was something very simple — caring. He cared if I lived or died — and as a result, I lived.

I haven’t always been entirely grateful that he saved my life. There have been times I wish he hadn’t. But he knows that, he understands that. He was never looking to be a hero, and that’s why he is to me. He stopped what he was doing, and saved my life.

I may not always be glad he did itm, but I will always be grateful, and humbled that he would. That he did. That anyone would take the time and effort to save me, from myself.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

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Thinkstock photo via AntonioGuillem.

Originally published: August 2, 2017
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