AN OFF-duty special constable given a special award after helping a distressed man he spotted on a motorway bridge has encouraged others to look out for those around them.
Jacob France pulled over on the M1 in Rotherham and managed to calm down the man, who was considering harming himself.
After receiving a pat on the back from senior officers for his kind-hearted actions, Jacob said he hoped the incident would help raise awareness of mental health issues.
The 22-year-old, from Kimberworth, who works as a call handler for South Yorkshire Police, said: “I was driving home and noticed someone had stopped on the bridge.
“I thought something didn’t seem right. I stopped and asked if he was OK and it was clear that he wasn’t.
“We just had a bit of a conversation and it was obvious he just needed someone to listen to him.”
After speaking for half an hour, the pair went their separate ways — but not before exchanging phone numbers.
And Jacob later received a message from the man, saying: “I just wanted to say how grateful I am for you stopping on that bridge the other night and talking to me when no-one else would.
“There needs to be more people like you in this world.”
Jacob, whose actions were praised and rewarded by Chief Supt Bob Chapman this week, said: “It was nice to get this message and to be recognised but I didn’t do anything I wouldn’t expect someone else to do, as long as they weren’t putting themselves in danger.
“Sometimes it’s just about being in the right place at the right time.
“So long as they make sure of their own safety, it can make all the difference to let someone know you’re there.
“A lot of people, especially a lot of men, find it difficult to talk about stuff that’s affecting them so if you’ve got a friend or someone that’s going through a hard time it can be good to just ask if they’re OK.
“Hopefully, if this incident raises awareness of mental health, that can only be a good thing.”
Checks by police found the man to be safe, well, staying at his parents’ and pursuing medical support.
Supt Chapman said: “Jacob demonstrated compassion towards a clearly vulnerable person.
“It is no exaggeration to say that his timely intervention stopped this man from coming to any further harm.
“It reflects on Jacob as an individual, but also as a fantastic representative of South Yorkshire Police. I am very proud of his actions that night.”
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