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Woman meets policemen who talked her out of jumping in Thames

A woman who almost took her own life last year by attempting to jump into the River Thames from the South Bank has been reunited with the officers who saved her.

Concern for mother-of-two Abby Hughes, 38, was reported to police after she walked out of a hospital in December last year.

Police searched for her using the dog support unit and the marine policing unit.

Lambeth Police officers found Abby after a member of the public called to say that they had seen a woman in a very distressed state attempting to jump into the Thames outside the National Theatre.

PCs Jamie Larner, Anthony Owen, Giuseppe Scannapieco and Jamie Chandler arrived at the scene and over the course of an hour they managed to convince Abby to climb back over the railings.

Working together the officers were discreet with their radio transmissions and held Abby in conversation.

PC Scannapieco engaged with Abby, talking to her and providing reassurance whilst moving her gradually away from the river. Eventually the officers were able to talk Abby out of taking her own life

Meanwhile the other officers had called an ambulance and began the process of finding suitable mental health care for her..

Last week Abby visited Brixton Police Station to thank the officers face to face.

She had already written to them in April about how the experience changed her life after suffering from severe mental illness for three years.

Abby Hughes said: "I was very nervous about meeting them all, I didn't know what I was going to feel, or how I was going to react, all I knew was that it was important for me to meet them and personally say thank you.

"Three years ago I was diagnosed with a severe mental health illness and was trapped in a vicious cycle of self harm and suicide attempts.

"The day I nearly jumped into the River Thames was the day that changed my life.

"The kindness those officers displayed that night and their care towards me gave me some sense of self worth and I have made great strides towards managing my recovery and since then have not had a single episode of self harm."

PC Scannapieco said: "I feel very humbled, honoured and happy that Abby wanted to meet us in person after taking the time to write to us all earlier this year about how she came to be there that day.

"We were already moved by the heartfelt letter she wrote to us about our actions that day but seeing her in person on the road to recovery had a huge impact on us, its the reason we do what we do.

"Whilst Abby has thanked us, it is herself she should give praise to, as she found the courage in herself that day to climb back over and begin a new stage in her life."

Sergeant Louise Sargent added: "This is an excellent example of how officers on team have engaged in difficult circumstances with a person in mental health crisis and dealt, not only appropriately and with a safe outcome, but expressing such care that the outcome from Abby's thank you letter makes powerful reading."

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