Therapy Dog Helps Prevent a Distressed Woman From Taking Her Own Life on a Motorway Bridge

A young woman who was contemplating suicide found the incentive to retreat from the edge of a highway bridge when she met a therapy dog. The dog has now been hailed as “amazing” for its role in saving their lives.

The desperate woman was spotted on a footbridge over the M5 motorway near Exeter in southern England on June 15. Following a welfare issue, police officers, firefighters and paramedics closed the street and arrived at around 11:00 a.m. to investigate.

(Courtesy Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service)

Police negotiators approached the woman and spoke to her, but the situation was “growing worrying” according to a Facebook post from Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service. A crew member had the idea to introduce Digby, their “defusing” dog.

Digby, an Australian Labradoodle, has been with the fire department since 2018, the BBC reported. Its job is to calm, comfort, and empower people to discuss their trauma in talk therapy.

“When Digby arrived, the young woman immediately turned her head to look and smiled,” the fire department explained. “That started a conversation about Digby and his role.”

Crews asked the woman if she would like to meet Digby and she accepted her invitation.

(Courtesy Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service)

A spokesman for the Devon and Cornwall Police Department told Devon Live that the woman was taken into custody shortly after 3 p.m. and the road was cleared. She has been placed under the care of mental health experts.

Thousands of internet users supported the emergency services decision to hire Digby and agreed that the smart dog deserved its award.

“If you think outside the box, Digby could be an invaluable tool,” thought one internet user. “It’s about getting the attention of the person in need in a meaningful way.”

“Perhaps Digby could have a new title in his service as a member of the diffusion and diversion fire department and participate in more incidents like this,” wrote another. “People who have their own mental crisis often still think about the welfare and history of an animal … and put them in front of themselves.”

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service wished the woman well in her continued recovery.

Anyone in need can call Samaritans from the UK at 116-123 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline from the US at 1-800-273-8255.

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