It’s hard to imagine that every 11-minutes someone in America takes their own life. Over 12 million adults have seriously thought about committing suicide, and even more disheartening, 1½ million individuals have actually attempted suicide.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death for individuals between the ages of 10-34 years, and the 4th leading cause of death among people 35-44.
One miraculous June evening in 2015, divide intervention changed the outcome of what would have been another tragic statistic when God placed two emergency nurses at the exact location and moment a troubled, young woman was about to jump off a bridge into the raging river below.
Nurses Stacey Jarrard and Jeri Meier had both coincidentally decided to leave work early Monday evening, several hours before their shift would usually come to an end at EASTAR Health System in Muskogee, Oklahoma. Jeri was the director of behavioral health at the hospital and would usually work late, but decided on this particular night she wanted to get home to her family and unwind from a hectic weeklong schedule.
Traveling southbound on U.S. Highway 69, everything seemed normal as Jeri slowed down at a red light before coming to a stop at Arline Street. Approximately 30 yards away, Meier noticed a young woman standing on the pedestrian bridge looking down at the water. As the light turned green Jeri slowly drove closer to the young woman and immediately noticed she was outside the fence. She then knew “that there was a situation on our hands.”
With over 35 years experience in psychiatric nursing, Jeri had experienced this situation dozens of times. The first thing she needed to do was call 911 for assistance. She then parked her car and got out, and calmly began conversing with the young distraught woman, knowing that any sudden move might cause the woman to jump into the dark murky waters below.
At first, the young woman resisted Jeri’s intervention. She started to move closer to the edge, holding onto the fence ready to let go, then suddenly stopped, pulling herself back. At that moment, Jeri saw Stacy pulling up behind her car, quickly getting out and rushing over to aid her.
“I thought, ‘thank God,’ because I knew that between the two of us we had a far greater opportunity to get her safely off that bridge because we had worked together before,” said Jeri.
Within a matter of moments, the situation became even more precarious as police, firefighters, and an ambulance all descended on the scene. The commotion frightened the young woman, causing her to become further agitated. Nevertheless, both nurses kept reassuring the young woman that no one would attempt anything reckless and everyone just wanted her to come off the ledge safely. Jeri knew as long as they kept the woman’s attention, they stood a good chance at saving her life.
“We would be able to keep her up there until she either became exhausted or gave up,” Jeri said. “As long as she was up there, she was alive. When I wasn’t talking, I was praying.”
After about 20 minutes, the young woman began sobbing uncontrollably. This was the break they needed. The woman had begun reassessing her situation, which allowed Stacy to explain to the young woman that even if she jumped from the bridge, there was a fair chance that she would survive the fall, but the impact of hitting the water would no doubt injure her severely.
Still sobbing, the emotionally drained woman collapsed backwards into waiting arms. She allowed Stacey to come to her side and the nurse explained that she would be taken to the emergency room. The woman requested that Stacey come with her, and the nurse promised she would meet her there.
“It was God’s grace that we saw her to safety,” Jeri affirmed.