Early in the morning on February 21st, 2018, Milwaukee County Sheriff's Deputy Jim Villwock saw a person sitting on the outside edge of the Hoan Bridge. As he engaged him in conversation, Villwock moved closer.
It wasn't the first time he had come across someone trying to commit suicide by jumping off the bridge. The man began leaning over the edge of the bridge, and Villwock sensed he was upset, but his training suggested he could help him.
The 29-year-old man said he wanted to kill himself because he had been unable to find a job since graduating from college six years ago. The danger for deputies is significant. Someone intent on killing themselves could potentially grab on to someone trying to help them, creating an even bigger problem.
After talking with him for a few minutes, Villwock and Deputies Michael Szudarski and Matthew Leuzinger were able to bring him back to safety, eventually taking him in for an emergency detention. For Villwock, it was a clear demonstration of how he can help people in difficult, life-threatening situations.
Villwock talked about the conversation on the bridge that day.
"He wasn't agitated at all, but he was very quiet. After about 2 minutes, he started answering my questions, and I continued the conversation to find out what was going on in his life," he says.
For his life-saving efforts and his commitment to public safety, Deputy Jim Villwock is today's WTMJ Cares Salute to Service.
WTMJ Cares Salute to Service is presented by First Bank Financial Centre.