Shane Drossard, who happens to be homeless, was camping out under the Washington Avenue Bridge in Minneapolis, Minnesota when he heard something fall into the river at two a.m.
When Drossard listened more closely, he could hear a woman’s voice. The man immediately rose to his feet and ran to the river where he jumped into the water and grabbed the woman’s hand while holding onto the wall behind him.
The thirty-five-year-old woman had attempted to commit suicide but survived the fall and was dragged downriver by the current. As Drossard kept the woman from being pulled under, he tried to comfort her, reminding her that she had a lot to live for.
“She says finally, ‘I’m going to go, I didn’t want to be here anymore anyway,’” Drossard said. He told her she was beautiful and had her whole life ahead of her. “I’m trying to hold onto her against the current, and she’s trying to give up.”
An emergency crew found the two in the water and pulled them to safety. The woman was immediately transported to the hospital for psychiatric evaluation and medical treatment. Though firefighters offered Drossard a bed for the evening, he chose to return to his campsite under the bridge.
When asked by WCCO why he risked his life to save the woman, Drossard emotionally said, “I don’t know, I heard a voice and just wanted to, you know, to save, wanted to do something good for somebody.”
In almost all developed nations, suicide has decreased since 2000. In the United States, however, from 2003 the number has increased by 1,000 a year and hasn’t stopped growing. In 2016, there were 45,000 suicides in the United States: 23,000 of them by firearm, 11,700 by hanging and 5,300 by overdose. These figures are believed to be an underestimate given the stigmatization of suicide in American society.
“At what point is it a crisis?” asked Nadine Kaslow, a past president of the American Psychological Association. “Suicide is a public health crisis when you look at the numbers, and they keep going up. It’s up everywhere. And we know that the rates are actually higher than what’s reported. But homicides still get more attention.”