The members of the Kepler Neighborhood School boys’ volleyball team in Fresno, California, have become hometown heroes after saving a life.
The middle-school students were out for a warm-up run when they spotted a woman in danger. They noticed that the apparently suicidal woman appeared to be dangling by her arms from a bridge at least 100 feet above water, and quickly sprang into action to help save her. They quickly told their coach, Elliott Murray, who called 911.
“I said immediately, ‘Go back up and get her attention,” Murray recalled on NBC’s “Today” of how he instructed the boys that day. “Tell her her life matters. So for a whole 10 minutes or so, they did not stop yelling, screaming, telling her, ‘Your life matters.’”
The boys’ efforts worked, and eventually, the woman pulled herself back up to the bridge. Police met her there and later confirmed that the woman, 47, was suicidal and contemplating jumping from the bridge.
Now, the young men are being hailed as heroes after their courageous actions.
“Their words of encouragement caused this woman to realize her life had value,” said Fresno police chief Jerry Dyer in a statement. “Thank God they were in the right place at the right time.”
Watch the students talk about their experience and how it has changed their perspectives, in a clip from Inside Edition below:
Murray believes the boys made a difference that day.
“By hearing those kids… and seeing those kids, it registered to her, ‘I can’t do this in front of them,'” he told NBC 12. “By kids chanting, ‘Stop, stop, stop, don’t do that. Your life is worth it,’ she made it back to the top.”
The team members, who included students from the sixth, seventh and eighth grades, described the experience as harrowing. But they were grateful that they were able to intervene.
“She was, like, one hand and feet hanging already,” student Brandon Ezell told the news outlet. “Crazy, very traumatizing, I’ve never seen nothing like this in my life.”
The students involved were able to speak to a psychologist at school to process the experience.
Experts say that the boys’ actions were the right ones to take in this type of incredibly stressful and life-threatening situation.
“There are a lot of takeaways here. What they did was that they connected with her and made that personal connection by talking to her,” Dr. Kevin Gilliland, clinical psychologist and director of Dallas-based mental health facility Innovation360, told People. “That is disruptive in a lifesaving way.”
The National Institute of Mental Health advises that, if you know someone who might be immediately suicidal, you should not leave that person alone. Take suicide threats seriously and seek help from an emergency room, physician, or mental health professional. If you encounter a suicidal person in an emergency situation, as these boys did, the Mayo Clinic confirms that you should stay with the person and call 911.
If you need to, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for support 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255.