MORGAN COUNTY, Ala. – For law enforcement, mental health crises are issues they see firsthand many times in their career. One distress call earlier this month was exceptionally gut-wrenching for Sergeant Jonathan Mason.
“There was a suicide threat call, so just as soon as I could get cleared up from the call I was on. I went in and started investigating,” Mason said.
Mason was shocked when he realized he knew the young man on the other end of the call. Mason had given him a warning for speeding a few months earlier.
“It was one of those ‘hair stand up on the back of your neck’ moments,” Mason said.
He raced to the scene, desperate to get there as fast as he could. Deputies already at the location were worried.
“They told me a couple of times they thought that they wasn’t going to be able to help him and ultimately he would have done what he was actually there to do that day,” he said.
As Mason pulled up on the scene, he slowly approached the young man’s car and started talking to him.
“At that moment that we made eye contact, I felt that we was going to be okay and he was going to be okay,” Mason said.
Mason shared this feeling with the man, and promised to be a support system to help him through this.
“He just started crying and he looked at me and, he handed me his gun and at that time it was a good feeling,” Mason said.
Sheriff Ron Puckett said he’s grateful to have deputies with this level of compassion in high-pressure situations. Puckett is proud Sergeant Mason was able to be a voice of hope to this man, but he hopes one day the state can provide proper care to those facing a mental health crisis. He said for years, this pressure has rested on the shoulders of his deputies.
“Alabama really doesn’t have a lot of resources at all for mental health, so to a large degree, law enforcement has to deal with that,” Sheriff Puckett said. “We experience a lot of the calls for help because there are just no resources, again, for loved ones to call.”
As for Sergeant Mason, he’s planning to keep in touch with the young man, who Mason said is doing well. They plan to meet for lunch in the coming days.
“I just knew that that’s where God had put me in this job for some reason to be in that spot for him that day,” Mason said.
If you find yourself in a mental health crisis at any time, don’t wait to ask for help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call 1-800-273-TALK. That’s 1-800-273-8255.
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