SINGAPORE: A security officer who stopped a woman from killing herself was given an award by the Singapore Police Force on Tuesday (May 14).
Mr Foo Kong Soon, a supervisor with Certis Cisco, was working at IMM shopping mall in Jurong East on Mar 16 when he convinced a woman not to take her own life and brought her to safety.
For going the extra distance in dispensing his duties as a security officer, Mr Foo received the Community Partnership Award at Clementi Police Division on Tuesday.
"YOU MUST COME DOWN"
Mr Foo was about to end his day shift at IMM around 6pm when a fellow security officer drew his attention to the top floor of the mall's car park.
He said: "I could only see her legs dangling, so I went further out and then I saw her legs and arms swinging."
He could not figure out if the woman sitting on the parapet wall of the car park was "being mischievous" or attempting to take her own life.
Mr Foo thought it was dangerous for anyone to be that high up and he knew he had to act fast. He went into the command post to alert fellow security officer, Mr Katiravan Subrayam, and to let other officers on duty know of a possible suicide attempt and to call the police.
Mr Foo rushed to the top floor of the car park ahead of Mr Katiravan, and he spotted a woman in her late 20s.
"I saw her sitting on the ledge. Her hands were twitching," he said. "I wanted to get near her."
He knew he would not be able to carry her weight if she jumped, so he stood about 30m away and called out to the woman: "Miss, miss what happened to you? It's quite dangerous. You must come down."
Mr Foo got no reply, so he started walking towards her. When he was about 15m away, Mr Foo tried calling out to the woman again.
By that time, Mr Katiravan had reached the top floor. The other security guard stayed a distance away from the scene while keeping Mr Foo and the woman within view.
The woman said to Mr Foo: "Uncle, uncle, you don't (have to) care about me. If I do something not good, it is not nice for you to see."
Mr Foo asked the woman if he could come closer. She remained silent, and he inched towards her while continuing to talk to her.
"I want to know what happened to you. Let us be friends first," Mr Foo recounted as saying to the woman. She finally turned around, telling the security officer to go away.
After about five minutes, Mr Foo noticed that her mood had stabilised.
"I saw (her looking) like (she was) more stable. (It was) not like when I first approached her, when she was crying and shouting," he explained.
Mr Foo thought it might be the right time to try and reach out to her, but there was a metal railing between them. He moved slowly from the woman's right to her left without alarming her.
Once on her left side, with the metal bar no longer blocking him, Mr Foo got within arm's reach of the woman.
He said to her: "Now you and uncle are friends. Can I hold your hand?"
The woman remained quiet. Mr Foo grabbed her, gripping his hands over her arms. With a firm grasp on her, he continued talking to her to keep her calm.
"IT WAS LIKE A STONE IN MY HEART WAS GONE"
He saw it as a chance to pull her down, and he managed to get her off the wall without her struggling.
The woman sat down against the wall, and Mr Foo stayed with her, afraid that she might get up again. Mr Katiravan came to Mr Foo's side and handed a bottle of water to the woman. Police officers arrived a few minutes later.
"It was like a stone in my heart was gone," he said, describing the relief he felt when the woman was safe.
Mr Foo recalled being constantly worried that the woman would be shocked by his presence. But he felt he had to remain focused. He said: "My plan was to keep calm. I must keep calm to make a decision. If I was nervous, I might (have messed) things up."
He said he was experienced with consoling friends who had been through troubling times and that speaking to the woman was almost like speaking to a friend "who needed a listening ear".
Three other security officers received Community Partnership awards for their assistance in stopping crimes during the course of their duty.
Two members of the public were also given Public Spiritedness awards for not ignoring a crime unfolding in front of them and for helping the police stop wrongdoers.
Where to get help:
Institute of Mental Health’s Helpline: 6389 2222
Samaritans of Singapore Hotline: 1800 221 4444
Singapore Association of Mental Health Helpline: 1800 283 7019