It’s heartbreaking when someone wants to commit suicide. You can only hope that emergency services find out and are able to help before it’s too late.
In the early hours of April 24, a man in Detroit was standing on a freeway overpass, planning to take his own life.
But local police—and some good Samaritans—found an inspiring way to keep him alive.
The unnamed suicidal man was standing on a bridge above Interstate 696, while traffic zipped past below.
But when Michigan State Police got word of the potential jumper, they sprang into action.
“Once we figured out that this is a situation where someone might be contemplating taking their whole life … we shut traffic down [and] we diverted it off onto the side streets,” Lt. Mike Shaw told CNN.
Shaw told NPR that this first step calms down the suicidal person, helps cars driving below avoid crashing into each other, and prevents any passerby from encouraging him to jump.
But then, the police allowed a few vehicles onto the interstate … for a motivational reason:
Trucks lined up under the bridge!
The troopers contacted nearby tractor-trailers and asked them to line up under the bridge. If the police couldn’t stop the man from jumping, at least the truck beds would break his fall.
“It provides a safety net for the person in case they happen to lose their grip and fall or if they decide to jump,” Lt. Shaw told NPR.
“With the trucks lined up underneath they’re only falling about five to six feet as opposed 15 or 16.”
It was a rare sight to see this many trucks.
Shaw told CNN that trucks are often used to help in suicide cases like this, but this was an extreme case: “Most of the time these events are [resolved] pretty fast, so we only get one semi.”
Luckily, the police were able to talk the man down.
“He was looking to take his own life but we were able to talk to him and find out what his specific trigger was and helped correct it,” Shaw told NPR. The man is currently safe and getting help.
It was an encouraging sight to see the truck drivers line up to help save a life. However, the police hope to remind everyone that the real important thing is that the man backed down and sought assistance.
“In that picture somewhere is somebody that was contemplating ending their own life,” Lt. Shaw told CNN.
“We want that to be the story—not what Michigan State Police did or what the truckers did, but that the person changed their own mind.”
When the Michigan State Police posted the photo to their Twitter page, they shared the same sentiment—and reminded anyone considering suicide to contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
This photo does show the work troopers and local officers do to serve the public. But also in that photo is a man struggling with the decision to take his own life. Please remember help is available through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. pic.twitter.com/RBAlCIXT1o
— MSP Metro Detroit (@mspmetrodet) April 24, 2018