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Local deputy saves would-be suicide victim

A young college student looking to end his life was saved recently by the heroic acts of a Colleton County law enforcement officer.

On Saturday, August 18th, Deputy Phillip Driggers, Jr. was working a routine evening shift with the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office when a distress call came in through the county’s 911-emergency dispatch center. A young man was described as being suicidal, and possibly located near West Bank Landing in Jacksonboro.

“There was a shooting in the county happening at the same time, so much of our manpower was pulled in that direction,” said Driggers. “I was the unit available for that attempted suicide call.”
Driggers said he rushed to the boat landing. There, he first noticed a vehicle matching the description of the jeep belonging to the victim. Then, Driggers saw the man standing on top of his vehicle, with a noose tied around his neck. The man appeared ready to jump, he said.

“I’ve never seen anything unfold that way,” he said.

Driggers attempted to talk to the man, he said. It was a tactic the deputy learned in his training. Moreover, Driggers said he wanted to show the young man compassion.

“My first thoughts were to find out what was so terrible, why this man felt he needed to end his life,” said Driggers. “I’ve never seen anything unfold that way … I got out of my patrol car, and started talking to him, to find out what was wrong and to show him we could fix it. I wanted to know who he was.”

As the man talked, Driggers said the victim spoke about how he had “lost everything, his friends.”

The two continued to talk. Then, the man moved. The noose tightened around his neck. Driggers lunged, he said, and lifted the man’s body into the air. He did this until “I could hear that he was not gasping for air,” said Driggers.

Driggers then encouraged the man to remove the noose from around his neck. And after pleading several times, the man complied.

This was Driggers’ first suicide-prevention call where the victim physically attempted the act in front of him, he said. While being interviewed by this newspaper on Monday, Driggers’ emotions were still raw. He said he was contacted by one person from the would-be-victim’s life. That person thanked Driggers for his help in saving the man, he said.

The man was transported to an area hospital for treatment. This newspaper will not print the man’s name, as he is an attempted-suicide victim.

As for Driggers, he said he is fine and is back at work. “When it was over, a few deputies prayed with me,” he said. “After the prayer, I reset. I was fine.”

“I was going to do whatever it took to help that man. I couldn’t watch someone die in front of me. I was going to do whatever it took to make sure he didn’t harm himself,” he said.

Driggers is a Round O native, and has been employed with the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office for two years. The entire ordeal was also captured on Driggers’ body camera, which he was wearing at the time of the incident.

The sheriff’s office and its officers have dealt with multiple attempted and completed suicides during 2018: a chaplain is available on duty at the sheriff’s office for support to both law enforcement officers who are impacted by these emotional calls, and to the families of the victims.

“ I am proud of Deputy Driggers, and appreciate how well he responded to the urgent situation. The training and support given to our officers helps to prepare them for the immediate incident they may encounter. Deputy Driggers’ response represented what this Sheriff believes in and he acted as a hero, in our opinion.”
– Sheriff R.A. Strickland

Heather Walters (1494 Posts)