“They immediately went to work,” Hill said of the two officers. “With the limited information they had, lo and behold in about an hour, they actually identified the individual who was about 3 hours away.”
Ballinger and Jones were able to contact the sheriff’s office in the jurisdiction where the student resides, and also were able to speak to the school resource officer.
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The officers confirmed the school there had a student by the name they suspected, and the student had left classes in the morning, going unaccounted.
Law enforcement in that area then went looking for the student and ultimately found him, according to Hill.
“Upon being located, he admitted to the deputies that he was looking for a way to kill himself that day,” Hill told council. “There is no greater impact you can have on somebody’s life than saving it.”
He added that from 3 hours away, the two officers and the alert actions of an Oakwood student, helped save a life.
“Suicide is an extremely sad, but necessary topic that merits discussion,” Hill said. “Unfortunately, our own community has been impacted by such a tragedy in recent years.”
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The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has set a goal to reduce the annual suicide rate 20 percent by 2025.
Oakwood Junior High Principal Tim Badenhop said he is proud of the young female student who took action and reported her concerns to her teacher.
“Reflecting on what happened that day, it is inspiring so many people dropped what they were doing to help ensure the safety and well-being of a person they had never met. It truly took a statewide team to save a life, but this would not have been possible without the willingness of a young person to follow her instincts and to share fully with teachers she trusted,” he said. “Students are coached that if they ‘see something, say something.’ If one person had dismissed what she knew for even an hour, the outcome could have been tragic. She made a choice to take action, and it was a life-changing decision.”
Mayor Bill Duncan said the saying, “if you see something, say something,” is important to remember and was in play with this incident.
“This student at Oakwood Junior High, she heard something and she said something,” Duncan said. “There were a lot of people involved in saving the young man’s life.”
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Duncan noted, “When I think about everything that has been going on in the last several months - this is the Oakwood Public Safety Dept. that I know.”
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City Manager Norbert Klopsch said it should also be noted that the student, whose live was saved, texted, “thank you,” to the Oakwood student who helped alert authorities on Dec. 11.
HOW TO GET HELP
If you are having thoughts of suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HELLO to 741741 to connect with a person directly.