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Posted on Friday 10 June 2022
mental health 2

Earlier this week, a woman who we’re calling Charlotte, had reached rock bottom.

Charlotte used social media to livestream images of herself, obviously distressed, crying and making her intentions very clear.

We can’t tell you much about Charlotte – she deserves her privacy – but she was a young woman who had her problems and had gone through a really rough time.

A friend called 999 just before 2.45pm and our control room team found the footage, which showed her with a blue footbridge in the background.

Our response officers know their patch: some of them were born and bred on the streets they police, others have worked here so long they know the area backwards.

We immediately sent cars to check every blue footbridge we could think of.

We can’t tell you much about the tactics we used to find Charlotte because we want to reach the next person in time, but we did find her, about 15 minutes after the first call came in, alive.

The cop who found her stayed for more than an hour, they chatted and kept Charlotte safe until the help she needed arrived, then the officer went on to the next emergency call.

There is no Disney ending: Charlotte still has more than her fair share of problems, but she’s no longer alone on a footbridge, she’s with the people who love her, starting to get the help she needs and with a long road ahead of her. She has another chance.

Contrary to what you might see on TV, policing is not all about blue lights and sirens and drug dealers’ doors being smashed in.

It’s about people like Charlotte.

In 2021, our 999 service received more than 96,000 calls, a large proportion of them related to mental health.

We are not always the best people to deal with a mental health emergency, but at 2am when you’re in crisis, or your friend is missing and threatening self harm or your neighbour is in distress, what is the one phone number you will always remember?

On that day, our control room dealt with 60 incidents in the category “concern for welfare”.

Charlotte was only one of them.

Do you need to speak to someone? Call The Samaritans on 116 123 any time, day or night.

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