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Fort Bend Deputy Saves Teen from Suicide, Receives Award


September 28, 2020

By Natalie Cook Clark

A Fort Bend County deputy has earned the prestigious “Officer of the Year” award. He was recognized for saving a teen’s life during her suicide attempt at Katy’s LaCenterra.

Photo credit: FBCSO

Deputy Encountered Distressed Teen at LaCenterra

Last April, Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Deputy Ron Skarpa was on patrol in LaCenterra when he encountered a distressed teen running up a parking garage.

“Everything happened so quickly that day,” says Deputy Ron Skarpa. “I attempted to talk to her but she was crying and very distraught. When that didn’t work the only thing to do was act quickly, get her off the ledge and to safety.”

Deputy Skarpa found an opportunity to wrap his arms around her and pull her to safety, preventing a potential suicide.

The Sheriff’s Office has previously investigated suicides at the same garage in the popular Cinco Ranch shopping center.

“Deputy Skarpa’s ability to recognize a crisis unfolding saved a life that day,” says Sheriff Troy Nehls. “We are truly proud of Deputy Skarpa.”

The teen was able to receive appropriate mental health treatment.

Life-Saving Actions Earned Deputy "Officer of the Year"

Last week, The Exchange Club of Fort Bend presented Deputy Skarpa with the “Officer of the Year” award for his life-saving actions.

“Any person who suffers from depression or a mental illness can reach out to the Sheriff's Office crisis intervention team, any police officer or school counselor,” says Deputy Skarpa. “Most importantly is that when family or friends feel their friend or loved one is in crisis they speak up and do something.”

Overall, Texas ranks 40th among the states in suicide statistics as of 2019. Texas has a rate of 13.34 while the national average is 14.00. 

September is National Suicide Prevention Month

While September is National Suicide Prevention Month, throughout the year, Katy schools and other groups offer important programs to help those suffering from depression.

Katy ISD recently hosted a virtual Legacy Parent Seminar on Suicide Prevention. Families can access the video and resources here.

Detective Muniz of KISD's Police Department recently participated in a panel on Mental Health Intervention for the Center for School Behavioral Health's Annual Conference. Watch the panel discussion here.

KISD advises immediate action if a student is suspected of having suicidal thoughts. Parents, students, and teachers and staff should reach out immediately to a campus counselor for help and not leave the student alone until a counselor is involved. This also applies to students currently learning through Katy Virtual Academy.

Community Resources

The Katy and local communities offer many mental health programs for residents of all ages:

Suicidal Warning Signs:

  • Unusual neglect of personal appearance

  • Mood Change - example: Extreme happiness after a long period of withdrawal

  • Persistent boredom, difficulty concentrating, decline in quality of work

  • Withdrawal from friends

  • Giving things away as in “tying up loose ends”

  • Commenting on the desire to die

  • Commenting on not being around

  • Change in attendance

  • Loss of interest in things they previously showed interest

  • Frequent complaints about physical symptoms

  • Drug or alcohol use


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