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'That's why I'm doing what I'm doing': 911 operator stops suicide attempt

If you are having suicidal thoughts, you can get help. 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

NEW ORLEANS- It's the first voice you often hear when you dial 911. From fires to shootings, these women and men work 12 hour shifts and are always on alert.

It's that watchful eye and ear which kicked into gear when Shaunice Walker got a terrifying call in July.

"I've gotten many suicide calls before, but it was always threatening. It was never the attempt to do so," Walker said.

Walker's worked at the call center for four years. She remembers a man in her ear, crying out for help.

"When I first initially got the call, it came from the victim's friend. He called and said that his friend wanted to end his life. But didn't know why. I asked for the victim's phone number and I took the initiative of calling him firsthand," Walker said.

The young man answered. Walker found out that he is a senior in High School. The student told Walker he was at the Algier's Levee, about to jump into the water.

"Going through my mind, I was like why? Why does a young male entering his senior year in high school, want to end his life and commit suicide," Walker said.

Walker started talking to him, convincing the young man his life is worth living.

"Finding common ground. Talking to him, getting through that problem with him, he decided not to jump," Walker said. "My heart was relieved, I was at ease knowing that my officers made contact with him to get him the help that he needed and that's why I'm here. That's why I'm doing what I'm doing."

Wednesday, Mayor LaToya Cantrell toured the 911 call center, speak with dispatchers directly, thanking them for their service.

"They work 12 hours a day, rotating shifts. They are on the front lines. They are first responders," Mayor Cantrell said.

Mayor Cantrell personally greeted and thanked Walker for her heroic efforts.

"We are seeing an uptick of suicides in our city. And I want to make sure that we are addressing this head on. That we are informing the public that we have to be aware of not only our surroundings, but what people are going through," Mayor Cantrell said.

For Walker, working hard and quickly responding to emergencies comes with the job, but she feels relieved knowing that a young man once at the brink of ending it all is still alive.

"I want the citizens of New Orleans to feel like, they can call 911 and actually get the help that they deserve," Walker said.

If you are having suicidal thoughts, you can get help. 1-800-273-TALK (8255).


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