ROYAL PALM BEACH, Fla. — A South Florida father and a Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office deputy were reunited Wednesday morning at a Royal Palm Beach substation, months after a tense and difficult situation.
"I was nervous walking into the building," David Bradley recalled. "I hadn't seen the deputy since the day that we first met."
The embrace and thank you came nearly five months after Bradley credits Deputy Karl Chaikin with saving his life.
"It means everything," Chaikin said. "That's why I became a cop. For him to be able to see his children again, his wife, it means a lot."
"I had to give him a hug because I owe him so much," Bradley said.
Bradley, who's a retired firefighter, recently shared his difficult story and the loss of loved ones to suicide to help others struggling with mental health.
"I was hellbent on doing what I felt I needed to do and there was no changing my mind," Bradley recalled during a recent interview.
Numbers from the Palm Beach County medical examiner show a 33% increase in suicides through November of this year compared to 2020.
Bradley recently sent a letter to the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office to thank Chaikin for how he treated him when he responded to his home during his time of need.
"I believe in my heart of heart, he saved my life that day and he needs to know it," Bradley said while reading the note.
As Bradley watched on, the Sheriff's Office honored and recognized Chaikin for his service that July 17 morning with a commendation for achievement.
"There's nothing else greater than knowing he's OK and his family is OK," Chaikin said.
"At the end of the day, you're not alone," Bradley said. "Whether it's someone in your phone, whether it's hotlines or whether it's local law enforcement, make a call. If you're feeling that low or desperate, you're not alone."
Help is always available for anyone in need of assistance. You can call the 211 Helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.