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How Winston-Salem police helped save a woman who nearly jumped from a bridge

Winston-Salem Police Sgt. Jennifer Dobey said when a woman tried to commit suicide on a US-421 overpass, her team of officers knew exactly what to do.

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Triad law enforcement agencies are putting a focus on mental health. This week, Winston-Salem police officers jumped into action when a woman attempted suicide from an overpass.

The department shared how police training helped talk the woman down. 

On Tuesday night, Winston-Salem police officers responded to a call around 10 p.m. about a woman in distress on the bridge at US-421 and Cloverdale Avenue.

RELATED: Winston-Salem police help talk woman down from overpass

"She was threatening to harm herself, making statements indicating that she was wanting to end her life," Winston-Salem Police Sgt. Jennifer Dobey said.

She said that's when the Crisis Negotiation Team went to work.

"They were able to assist using those verbal de-escalation skills, meeting her exactly where she was at, talking to her like a human, really trying to hear what was going on with her," Dobey said.

A terrifying situation, but one Dobey said these men and women are trained for. After shutting down the highway, in 45 minutes, the team got the woman to come back over the barrier and saved her life. 

"It can be incredibly terrifying for the person involved, it can be incredibly terrifying for the community as a whole, and to be able to handle that in a positive way and interact with our community, and get them the help they need, that's a win all day long," Dobey said.

RELATED: Greensboro Police Officer awarded for saving man from suicide

Police are used to saving lives, but these situations require a different call to action. Greensboro police have a similar division called BHRT, the Behavioral Health Response Team. 

"BHRT is a group of police officers, and they are paired with clinicians who are hired by the city, they are partnered together," Greensboro Police Lt. Jack Steinberg said. "They physically go out to calls, they physically are paired up together to go out and help folks that are in a mental crisis or having a mental issue."

Two cities, two different crisis teams but both with the same mission, to save lives.

Starting next month, there will be a national 3-digit number to reach the suicide hotline. Anyone in need of help can call 9-8-8.

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