By Steven Galvan, USAISR PAODecember 16, 2013
Some may call it instinct; others would credit military training kicking in. Regardless of what it was that kicked in that day, the actions taken by the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research Company Commander Capt. Lashawnna N. Ray resulted in a botched attempted suicide.
On her drive to work during the early hours of a mid-November morning, Ray noticed a young female pedestrian walk toward her as she drove over a bridge. She didn't realize how that morning was going to unfold until she saw the young lady look over the side of the bridge.
"I rolled my window down to say something to her, but I realized that the driver in front of me had rolled her window down and was yelling something to her," said Ray.
Ray then got out of her car and approached the distraught lady now sitting on the side of the bridge and asked what was wrong and if she could help her.
"I reached out to put my hand on her shoulder while I asked her if I could help her," she said. "Then she got even more hysterical. She was yelling and cursing at me and the others who were around her telling us to leave her alone and to keep our hands off of her."
Ray's next reaction was to leave the site and go back to her car to retrieve her cell phone and call 9-1-1. As she was dialing, she was told by another driver that the call had already been made. Ray went back to the location to see what else she could do.
As she continued to try to calm down the pedestrian, another bystander lunged at her and knocked her off of the side of the bridge to the pavement where she was held until the authorities arrived.
"She did exactly what she was supposed to," said Maj. Shawn P. Gallagher, the staff Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner at USAISR Burn Center. "Every situation is going to be different, but the most important thing to remember is to keep yourself safe."
Regardless of why Ray reacted how she did is irrelevant. She followed the Army ACE Suicide Intervention Training program offered to all Soldiers. ACE stands for "Ask, Care, and Escort." While the training is aimed at preventing suicides in the Army, it can apply in any situation, as Ray found out firsthand.
"I'm just glad that I was there and able to help out," she said. "I don't know what was going on in her life, but I hope she was able to find the help she needs."