‘Thanks for saving my life’

A DESPERATE woman who was just minutes away from taking her own life has thanked police helicopter staff for saving her from the brink of death.

The woman, who suffers from depression, praised Cleveland Police’s helicopter staff who found her in sand dunes at North Gare, Seaton Carew.

The force helicopter was scrambled after the woman’s frantic husband contacted the police when she went missing.

The woman, who wishes to be identified only as Joanne, contacted the Mail after an article last week told how the helicopter attended 632 incidents in just three months.

Now recovering, she wanted to pass on her thanks to the helicopter crew and officers on the ground who took her to hospital.

She said: “Without the police helicopter, I wouldn’t have been found so quick.

“I never got chance to thank them for saving my life.”

Joanne had gone to the beauty spot after visiting her doctor for medication.

She swallowed a cocktail of pills and alcohol before bedding down in the dunes.

Around an hour and a half later, she vaguely remembers the helicopter hovering over her as she drifted in and out of consciousness.

She then remembers waking up at the University Hospital of Hartlepool with her relieved husband at her bedside.

Joanne, 35, said depression ate away at her confidence over the past few years and the person she was had “disappeared”.

The former customer advisor said: “I’m just a normal person – I don’t have a drink or drug problem, and my debt is average.

“It was just a gradual decline and low self-esteem, low confidence and working too hard and too long hours.”

She was prescribed anti-depressants, and after a 10-month wait she was eventually was given a therapist.

But she could still see no way out, and was later classed as high-risk. “It was building up and building up – I actually thought people would be better off without me,” said Joanne.

“I just couldn’t take any more.”

On that fateful day, she left her mobile phone at home so she could not change her mind if anyone rang her.

She left a note for her husband saying “I have to go”, prompting him to realise something was wrong.

Joanne thinks the helicopter searched the area where she was because her husband knew she loved Seaton so much.

Upon waking up in hospital, Joanne said she initially felt disappointed her attempt had not worked.

She said her family were scared and angry at her, and her friends asked why she did not call them.

But she added: “It’s just hard – they don’t understand.”

Joanne, now an administration worker, added: “Depression is a terrible illness that consumes you, there is no magic wand to make it go away and there is no quick-fix medication.

“I’m still with a therapist, but I don’t feel as bad or as low as I did.”

Sergeant Dave Clark, of the air support unit, said: “It’s not always obvious to the public that the Cleveland Police helicopter is involved in life-saving and search and rescue operations such as this.

“All the crews are fully trained to deal with such incidents, and it is always pleasing when such a positive outcome is achieved.

“We send our best wishes to the victim and her family.”

Joanne, who moved out of town two months ago to start afresh after the September 2 incident, urged others in the same situation to get help.

She recommends www.mentalhealthmatters.com, and people can also contact their GP, Samaritans on 08457 909090 or Hartlepool Mind on (01429) 269303.