By Andrew Dys And Hannah Smoot The Herald (Rock Hill, S.C.)

ROCK HILL, S.C. — Rock Hill police officers are being credited with life-saving actions after they stopped a man who planned to commit suicide on Facebook Live.

The man, who was not identified by police, was taken into custody before midnight Wednesday and taken to Piedmont Medical Center for treatment.

The man was on Facebook Live, a platform of the popular social media site, “attempting to post his suicide by hanging himself” when Facebook contacted police, officers said.

“The fast action of the officers involved, and following through with Facebook, appears to have saved this man’s life,” said Capt. Mark Bollinger of the Rock Hill Police Department.

A woman called 911 late Wednesday to report that the man wanted to hurt himself after being evicted from his apartment, a police report states. Officers rushed to an apartment complex off West Main Street to look for the man, but they could not find him, said Sgt. Cedric Stokes, one of two supervisors who helped with the incident.

Police were notified by Facebook, and by 911 callers, that the man had logged on to Facebook Live and was “attempting to post his suicide by hanging himself,” a police report showed.

“Facebook contacted the police department through dispatch and notified us of what was happening with the man who was streaming online,” Stokes said. “We had several other calls about it being streamed on Facebook Live, too.”

Facebook was able to track, or “ping,” the man’s phone, which showed he was blocks away on Sanders Street, in the Boyd Hill neighborhood, Stokes said. Officers Justin Cook, Robert Zike, Luke Denton and Sean Sercu, along with Stokes and Sgt. Bruce Haire, searched for the man.

They rushed to Sanders Street, just west of Cherry Road near Main Street, Stokes said. Officers saw on the Facebook Live that the man was hiding in the woods and they were able to capture him, Stokes said.

Haire spotted the man and, with other units, was able to get him into custody.

“We just talked to him, tried to calm him down, and were able to put him in protective custody,” Haire said.

Police found towels tied together inside a book bag carried by the man.

Haire called the incident “a big group effort to save a person’s life.”

“I am very pleased, how pulling together, we were able to save this individual and get him the help he needed,” Haire said.

Rock Hill’s motto that employees are “always on” was shown by the police department and the officers, said Rock Hill Mayor John Gettys.

“This was a remarkable action, and shows the dedication to the public that our officers have,” Gettys said.

Facebook Live has had suicides before — and police have been able to stop others.

York County law enforcement officers have a recent history of saving people in suicide situations.

In March 2017, York County Sheriff’s Office deputy Mark Scoggin saved a man threatening to jump off a bridge over Interstate 77.

In 2015, York County Sheriff’s Office deputies Chad Smith and Josh Yates saved a woman trying to hang herself from a tree by holding her upright for several minutes until medical help arrived.

In 2013, four Rock Hill Police Department officers saved seven people trapped in an apartment building.

©2018 The Herald (Rock Hill, S.C.)

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