An SHP service manager has been commended by Metropolitan Police after he prevented a distraught young woman from taking her own life. 

Dave Larvin was presented with the Metropolitan Police’s Commendation Award for Professionalism, Outstanding Teamwork and Bravery after risking his own life to save a suicidal 17year old in a dramatic incident on a railway bridge in Leyton, North London, in May. 

Emma* (not her real name), was living in our supported accommodation for young people in Waltham Forest when a fellow resident raised the alarm, warning that she had headed in the direction of Leyton station in a distressed state and was going to end her life by jumping off a bridge.  

Dave followed her and found the young woman trying to scale the enclosed 60ft high bridge, which overlooks the A12 at Leyton Station.  Despite Dave’s efforts to restrain her, following a protracted struggle Emma managed to get free and climb onto a thin metal bar stretching across the domed roof of the bridge. Fearing she would attempt to jump onto the tracks or motorway below, Dave followed her up onto the bar and continued to restrain her until he was joined by three police officers, who called for further back up. 

Three more officers arrived on the scene and a fire rescue team had to cut away a section of the bridge to get Emma to safety. Emma has since recovered from her ordeal and, having received support with her mental health, is now living in Essex, where she is studying at college. 

Dave was presented with the award by Detective Chief Superintendent Richard Tucker after being nominated by an officer who had attended the scene. 

Det Ch Supt Tucker said: “David demonstrated amazing personal resilience and bravery dealing with this incident. He acted in a way that all decent and good citizens do. He made a difference and without a doubt saved this young woman’s life.”

He added: “As anyone who works in a public facing service knows, mental health is now one of all of our biggest demands, but the scale of the task should never deflect from our shared objective to look after the vulnerable in society.”

Last year, we provided support and accommodation to 428 young people who were either homeless or leaving care. Untreated mental health problems among young people are a growing concern. 

Dave said: “While this was an extreme incident, it does underline the fact that in recent years the complexity of support needs among vulnerable young people has been on the rise. Cuts to mental health services in particular mean that charities like ours are dealing with ever more challenging needs.    

“Many young people are struggling with a history of trauma or neglect, leading to depression, anxiety, self-harm, stress, bullying, low self-esteem and eating disorders. 

“Too often, mental health interventions are only available once triggered by a crisis, by which time much of the damage to the young person has been done.  

“We are working to develop our own in-house psychological support services, but funding is very difficult to come by. More resources are urgently needed to provide preventative support and early intervention.” 

SHP Chief Executive Liz Rutherfoord said: “We are very proud of Dave. His courage and quick thinking during this incident helped to avert a tragedy and is a reflection of his commitment to SHP’s clients.”