A local woman is using her story of contemplating suicide and ultimately being saved by a Moline Police Officer to encourage others seek help when they need it most.
Shaunee Kirkpatrick, a Milan native, said she has dealt with serious mental health conditions for a long time.
“I’ve battled depression, anxiety, for pretty much what feels like my whole life,” she said.
On May 1, Kirkpatrick experienced distress like never before. It was then that she contemplated ending her life.
“I just felt like, overpowered,” she said. “I was overwhelmed. I just thought that it was not worth it anymore. I lost hope.”
Moline Police Officer Jeff Leonhardt responded to a 911 call from an anonymous man about someone sitting on the ledge of the I-74 bridge.
“There’s a lot that’s going through your head, just trying to get you in the right mindset to handle the situation,” Leonhardt said. “I see her sitting kind of below the bridge, like on an I-beam, and I knew right away that I had to get her to safety.”
“And then, next thing you know I am being pulled off the side of the bridge by a Moline Police Officer and they took me to get help,” Kirkpatrick said.
He acted quickly, and selflessly.
“You don’t even realize that you’re doing it sometimes because it’s just what you are supposed to do,” he said.
It’s an act she will never forget.
“That officer put his life on the line to save mine,” she said. “Shaunee: I’d thank him of course, but that wouldn’t be enough.”
Leonhardt received the Life Saving Award from the department in August. He said, however, the job about more than the recognition.
I was very honored to receive the award, but I didn’t do what I had to do to get the award or anything like that. It’s just me doing my job,” he said.
Kirkpatrick is now looking towards her future. She graduated from Western Illinois University this spring and hopes to land a communications job. She is excited about her next steps, even with a newly broken foot.
“I picked up this great hobby, called skateboarding, and then I break my foot.”
Knowing she is moving forward makes the job worth it for Leonhardt.
“I was okay and she’s okay, and she’s doing good now so it was all worth it,” he said.
Kirkpatrick now spreads a message of hope.
“Don’t lose hope and if you need to reach out to somebody, there are so many opportunities,” she said.
If someone you know exhibits warning signs of suicide:
• Do not leave the person alone
• Remove any fire arms, alcohol, drugs or sharp objects that could be used in a suicide attempt • Call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255)
• Take the person to an emergency room or seek help from a medical or mental health professional
To find local resources, check out the link here.