Warning, this video shows discussions of suicidal ideation. Viewer discretion is advised.
FLAGLER COUNTY, Fla. (WESH) — There were a number of heroes involved in the rescue of a suicidal teenager threatening to jump from a highway overpass in Flagler County on Sunday, among them, an all-female negotiating team.
Investigators got word that the girl didn’t like men.
So, several women in the department took over.
“I tried to talk to her about everything other than what was happening,” Deputy Laura Jenkins said.
“It was a tap dance, it was a tap dance, we were just trying to find anything just to keep her talking,” Deputy Crista Rainey said.
Rainey and Jenkins were among a team that responded to a teenager in crisis.
The 17-year-old, who has been previously Baker-Acted, left home, according to family, threatening self-harm. First responders found her on the wrong side of the chain-link fence at Palm Coast Parkway over I-95.
“She did let go multiple times,” Jenkins said.
“At least 15-20 times I would say, or guess,” Rainey said.
It wasn’t easy, but Deputy Jenkins managed to get handcuffs on the distraught girl.
Meanwhile, Deputy Rainey ran down to the now-closed interstate and jumped on a fire department ladder truck that was raised for the rescue.
Deputy Rainey talked to the teen about her 7-month-old nephew, soothed and calmed her, then reached in and grabbed her.
“It was a little scary, but I think I was just more focused on getting her down,” Rainey said.
“Once we got her down to the ground, we kind of all just fell on top of each other and just hugged for quite some time,” Jenkins said.
The teen was taken to the hospital. The deputies say they are proud to have been part of this life-saving effort.
“Great feeling knowing that you could stop somebody who was so intent on doing that,” Rainey said.
In a timely coincidence, Flagler County just got word that its number one legislative funding priority, a quarter-million dollars for mental health help, survived the state budget process.
Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly, reacting to the incident, put the spotlight on his deputies rather than himself. He says their training was obvious during the ordeal and says more attention must be paid to those in mental health crises.
If you or someone you know is going through a crisis, you can reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.