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FRUIT HEIGHTS — A Davis County sheriff's deputy was at the right place at the right time.
He saw something that caught his attention while on patrol last week and that led to him to save a teenager who was trying to take his own life.
Had the deputy shown up 15 to 20 minutes later, the case could have had a much different outcome, authorities said. They hope his intervention will give hope to the teen and others contemplating suicide.
About 3:45 a.m. on Feb. 27, a deputy saw something out of the ordinary near 300 N. Mountain Road. It was an idling car, slightly hidden among the trees.
“Obviously at 3 o’clock in the morning, that’s the one thing that’ll catch the eye of a police officer at night,” Davis County Sheriff Todd Richardson said Tuesday.
The veteran deputy found a 16-year-old boy in the back seat in a desperate situation.
“When they’re in a state of emotion, especially to the point of where they’re wanting to harm themselves, the biggest thing is trying to get them the help that they need through counselors and other things,” Richardson said.
“It’s a wonderful story, and it’s the kind of thing that we try and do all the time,” said Barry Rose, manager of the University Neuropsychiatric Institute, which provides crisis services to Salt Lake County residents. The services include a mobile crisis outreach team and a crisis line.
The institute takes about 4,000 calls a month. “We get a lot of calls from folks that are having thoughts of harming themselves,” he said.
In many cases of attempted suicide, intervention provides much-needed support during what’s often a temporary situation.
“Crisis intervention is all about buying time with people, helping them understand that there are supports out there, there are people that can help them,” Rose said.
The story of a California man recently reunited with the officer who talked him off a bridge in 2005 went viral. Crisis workers say even in times of despair, there’s hope.
“Most people are able to go on and have happy, productive lives,” he said.
Authorities say the teen’s parents didn’t know what was going on and were very grateful to that deputy.
People struggling with thoughts of suicide can find help at the University Neuropsychiatric Institute crisis line at 801-587-3000 or at its website healthcare.utah.edu/uni/crisis.
Help is also available at the National Alliance of Mental Health Utah at www.namiut.org.