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Harlan police officer talks woman down from suicide

A Harlan City Police Department officer was able to talk a woman down from jumping from a bridge in an attempted suicide Friday afternoon, setting not only a kind example as a law enforcement officer, but as a person as well.

Officer Derrick Noe went to work on Friday unaware that he would be what many would call a Good Samaritan later in the day when the Kentucky State Police called his station asking if someone could check on a woman who was sitting on the railing of a bridge on U.S. 421.

“The state police called, and while Chris was on the phone with them, two other people who had seen her came in and reported that she was on the bridge and that they were concerned about her well being,” he said.

Noe told the Enterprise he left the station and pulled his police car around to the bridge where the woman was seen.

“When I pulled up, she was sitting on top of the railing with her feet on the river side of the bridge and sort of leaned over with her hands up over her face,” he said. “Walking up, I noticed she was crying and I asked her if there was anything I could do to help her.”

Noe said the woman made the comment “I don’t have anything to live for” and was very emotional and upset as she opened up to the officer about what has been troubling her for the past few weeks.

“I basically told her it wasn’t worth hurting herself over and that we could get her some help. I told her things would get better after a while,” Noe said, adding the woman agreed and crossed back over the railing to where he was standing.

Noe said a passerby stopped shortly after and gave the woman a hug and offered to say a small prayer for her before an ambulance came to take her to the hospital.

“Having another woman there with her helped a little bit,” he said.

Noe said he explained she would need to be taken to the hospital to be evaluated and said the woman agreed with him. He added she asked if they could stop on the way to the hospital and pick up her husband, which Noe agreed to do as long as it didn’t cause her anymore distress.

HPD Chief Winston “Wink” Yeary also noted a similar incident that happened in December with a man wanting to jump from the bridge near Ivy Hill, adding Noe had responded to it as well alongside officers Travis Freeman and Anthony Jenkins.

“He was sitting down on the bridge at the tunnels. It was after dark so it made it a little more touchy of a situation but made it a little easier on us as far as being able to get someone close enough to pull him back from the edge of the bridge,” Noe said.

He added when he pulled up he kept talking to the man in order to distract him while the two officers got close enough to pull him to safety. Noe said when the other two officers first showed up, the man slid away from them and almost lost his balance, gripping to the bridge to stabilize himself.

“You could tell in his face right then that he hadn’t completely committed to going, but any little movement the wrong way could’ve made him fall.”

Yeary commended his officers for their dedication to service, going on to say in both instances he saw “excellent work” from them.

“Around the holiday season, we almost always see a rise in suicides or attempted suicides. It just brings on some type of depression in folks,” Yeary said. “Like Derrick said, any time someone does have the feeling or thoughts of suicide, there are different helplines you can call. Family members can also seek assistance with a mental petition, which is like taking a warrant on someone but instead of going to the jail, they go to the hospital where they need help.”

If you or someone you know are struggling with depression or are having thoughts of suicide or have attempted suicide, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. The line is available 24/7 and available to anyone in need of help.