'We are in a true mental health crisis in this county and this city': Police provide tragic update to crisis situation at downtown Detroit high-rise

Despite hours-long attempts and prayer to help a woman going through a mental health episode, police said she tragically fell from her high-rise apartment building on Detroit's east side late Tuesday night.
Photo credit WWJ's Cassandra Llamas-Fossen

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DETROIT (WWJ) - Despite hours-long attempts and prayer to help a woman going through a mental health episode, police said she tragically fell from her high-rise apartment building on Detroit's east side late Tuesday night.

Detroit Police Chief James White said in an earlier update that crisis negotiators spent hours talking to the woman as she clutched to the edge of her balcony, 25 stories up, at the Jeffersonian Apartments at 9000 E. Jefferson Avenue, east of the Belle Isle Bridge.

James Harris, chief public information officer for the Detroit Fire Department, told reporters that they received a call about a woman in distress just before 10 a.m. on Sept. 5.

According to White, the woman was depressed, fatigued and appeared to have taken medication before going out onto her balcony where she threatened to jump.

For nearly 12 hours, first responders gathered on the street below as the situation unfolded. Authorities were assisted by co-mental health specialists on the ground and negotiators from the police and fire departments, as well as a clinician who all spoke with the woman in an attempt to rescue her.

In an update around 6 p.m., White told reporters that authorities were concerned about the woman's fatigue, as temperatures hovered around or above 90 degrees for most of the day, and they were worried that she may lose her balance and fall without intending to.

"We are hoping to be able to get her to come back over the ledge so we can get her the help she needs," White said, adding that a hospital bed was waiting for her.

The police chief noted that the woman's mood appeared to have shifted in a more positive way.

As reported by the Detroit Free Press, Detroit Police Chaplain Mario Singleton was leading a crowd of bystanders in prayer just before 10 p.m. when the woman fell.

First responders rushed her to Detroit Receiving Hospital where she was pronounced dead.

At this time, it remains unclear whether the woman lost her grip and fell or if she jumped, but police said they were handling the case as a "threatened suicide."

Police had asked the public to stay clear of the area as they worked the scene, but that didn't stop bystanders from gathering.

"I was praying. I just can't believe it," nearby resident, Norma Powell, told the Free Press.

“I can’t say it enough,” White had reiterated not hours before the tragic ending. “We are in a true mental health crisis in this county and this city.”

Individuals in crisis, including those considering suicide, are urged to reach out by call or text 24/7 to 988 or chat at 988lifeline.org. Those in need of help can also call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.

For additional information, visit:

• 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline
24/7 Crisis Line| 988 | Our Network: Lifeline

• Michigan Crisis and Access Line (MiCAL)
24/7 Crisis Line | MiCAL Website

Michigan Crisis and Access Line (MiCAL) is Michigan’s statewide crisis line that answers 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline calls originating from Michigan. Click here to learn more about Click here to learn more about MiCAL/988.

Featured Image Photo Credit: WWJ's Dan Jenkins