A passenger who found herself in a suicidal crisis on a jetBlue flight on Sunday was fortunate that the flight manifest included an unusually high number of peace officers, including a crisis intervention specialist.
In the wake of the December murder of two NYPD officers, jetBlue Airways made an offer to fly police officers from around the country to New York so they could show solidarity with their fallen comrades. The gesture of goodwill to provide free travel to law enforcement flying to and from the funerals of Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos may have also helped save the life of a passenger who reportedly tried to kill herself Sunday onboard a flight from John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) to Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC).
CNN is reporting that when a distraught passenger aboard the flight attempted to take pills in an apparent suicide attempt, officers flying home after attending services for fallen NYPD officer Wenjian Liu intervened.
Sergeant Terry Wall, a Salt Lake City police officer and crisis intervention specialist, told CNN that he and his colleague Detective Robert Odor restrained and attempted to calm the distraught woman.
“[We] tried to let her know that we’re there to help her, let her know that she matters, even though she’s saying that ‘I don’t want you to help me, I want to die,'” said Wall, noting that they decided not to handcuff the woman, as that could have upset her further.
The trouble started after the unnamed woman became agitated and combative following an argument with her husband. Odor agreed to sit with the woman for the remainder of the flight, which is when he became aware that she was taking pills and writing a note.
“I can only speculate what would have happened if we hadn’t noticed that and the flight had continued for four more hours,” Odor told CNN.
The flight was diverted to Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD), where the troubled woman was taken to a nearby hospital for evaluation.