Love The One You’re With

Today, as I was driving over the Tyne bridge I watched a woman slowly climb over the barrier. It was all in slow motion for me. Surely she was a workman – not a woman? I must be mistaken. There were no harnesses, no safety rope and with horror and panic I realised she was about to jump to her death.

I stopped my car and ran over to her with no idea what I would say or do. By this time she was on the other side of the barrier and barely holding on with one uncertain hand. Why was I the only person to have stopped? The traffic continued to crawl past and with a desperate realisation it became clear that what I did next would determine whether she lived or died.

At first I tried what we see so often in movies. I spoke calmly and tried to get close to her. She was shaking her head and moved as though she’d let herself fall at any moment. I became desperate and begged her not to do this. ‘Please love, wait. Wait a minute. Just one minute. Please.’

More than anything I’ve ever wanted in my life I didn’t want her to die. Not here. Not now.

A big fella from the post office appeared next to me. He’d stopped his van in front of my car and looked like he’d done this before. He walked boldly up to her and started nonchalently talking to her – making no attempt to grab the single hand that was stopping her from falling. I stepped back, relieved that this was no longer my sole responsibility – yet terrified that she’d die.

By now there was a couple of women also on the pavement with us. I asked if they had called the police and they confirmed they had. But where were they? I felt as though I’d been there for such a long time.. and then the big guy stepped back from her turned to me and said ‘She’s going to jump. If I grab her head will you get her arm?’

What?

I said I would – what choice did I have? .. we both moved close to her again and I felt desperate. Could we really grab her before she saw what we were doing? Could we hold her when there was barely any part of her body to grab on to? Could we prevent this poor woman from ending her life when she so clearly wanted it to end?

Where were the police? I just wanted the police to arrive. They save lives. I’ve seen it on TV. I think the big guy may have said ‘Now!’ I’m not sure. We were holding her. He had a shoulder and I had an arm and holding onto her with such determination and fear. She was crying. Saying ‘No, no, no,’. She wanted to die. Right there. Right now.

Other people appeared and tried to hold any part of her they could reach over the barrier. But she was struggling. I said ‘Can we lift her over?’ and she cried and cried.

I said ‘On three?’

But there was no three. In a moment of near violence we’d dragged her over the edge and she was safe. Safe from dying today at least.

I realised a police woman was standing next to me and she put a handcuff on the wrist of the arm I was holding.. and then the other. This woman who so much wanted her life to end was being held by each of us and all I wanted to do was hold her tightly and tell her everything was going to be alright  – even though I guess we all knew, everything was far from alright.

More police appeared and a van. They put her in the van and I gave the police my details and it was over.

I was standing on the bridge. Just standing. Feeling like my heart would burst out of my chest. I couldn’t breathe.

One of the women who’d been with us approached me. She put her hand on my arm and asked ‘Are you ok?

‘Am fine’ I said ‘I’m always fine.’

She said ‘You saved a life today.’

I saved a life today.

I was shaking. I drove home and as I closed the door of my home behind me I realised I had huge rolling tears running down my cheeks. Tears for the lass who wanted to die today.

So people, if you’re with someone now, at this moment, who cares about you, then take a moment.

Take a moment.

21 Responses to Love The One You’re With

  1. enterprisegran says:

    Oh my goodness. What a terrible thing to go through. The fact that you stopped to help is testament to the sort of lovely man you are. Sending big hugs. x

  2. Thank goodness you were there and stopped! Often people need that first brave person to step forward so that they can too.

    Although she may not feel it today, in the future – when her life is on a more even balance – she will be glad you were there.

    You did a good thing, look after yourself x

  3. juliette says:

    wow. How sad. Well done for stopping! And what a wonderful thing to have done. Interestingly there was a research project a while ago, can’t remember where from now (I have it in a lesson) but they had interviewed people who had accidentally survived after jumping. 90% of them changed their mind when half way down.

    She will remember and appreciate it when she’s had the help she needs. In the meantime, a large glass of wine and some love an affection for you too!

  4. tinyacorns says:

    That is a situation that most of us could never comprehend having to deal with. Well done for stopping and saving her, she will want o thank you at some point when she’s recovered I’m sure. I only ‘know’ you from twitter, but you’re obviously a very lovely person.

  5. Depjo says:

    Woah Simon. What an experience. On behalf of her loved ones I want to say Thankyou to you.
    Thankyou x

  6. John McLear says:

    At times like these I hate to resort to meme’s but.. http://www.roflcat.com/images/cats/Like_A_Boss.jpg

    Good on ya

  7. Anon says:

    I’ve written and deleted half a dozen comments and still don’t know how to say what I want to say.

    Well done on what you did today. I hope that one day, the woman will be grateful for it.

    Yet, at the same time and as someone who might well have been on that other side of that barrier, I have problems getting to grips with the issue of ‘saving’ the lives of people who clearly don’t want to be ‘saved’.

    Don’t get me wrong: I have utmost respect for you stopping and doing what you felt was right in spite of it doubtlessly having been one of the hardest things you’ve ever been confronted with. Maybe this is more a reply to previous comments than to your blog, really. And more an unanswerable question than anything else – from someone who hopes that if I ever do cross that barrier, there won’t be anyone around to witness it and who’ll have to make the decision you’ve had to make today.

  8. I believe attempting suicide is a cry for help. I think attempting it in a busy place, with lots of witnesses, is a clear cry for help. You did the right thing Simon.

    Well done. You helped.

  9. I’m shaking just reading this, Simon. You are a wonderful human being, and you did a great thing. I hope the woman you helped is getting the help and support she needs right now. Thanks so much for writing and sharing this — and mind yourself.

    Sending a big hug x

  10. Ewan McIntosh says:

    Wow. Just wow. Thank goodness there are enough Simfins, burly postmen and kind passers-by in the world. Have a fine single malt on me.

  11. simon ensor says:

    Simon, sometimes we are thrown into others’ life stories. You didn’t just save a life but maybe the lives of a family, of friends; you just gave them all a little more time to think, to speak, to act, to recover.

    That could have been one of my family.

    My thoughts go out to you. Where there is life there is hope. There is real life in your words, keep talking🙂

  12. teresamac says:

    moved to tears by your account, a wake up call for all of us to help each other through the bad days.

  13. donlan says:

    Well done for being brave and kind and caring. For stopping to help.
    Hope you’re ok.

  14. Pip Chip says:

    Bless you. That must have been so difficult. Hope she is ok today and getting some support. Well done.

  15. l4l1 says:

    I had this experience once but I judged it differently but it payed off.

    I was teaching in a school in central London and opposite the school was UCL hospital (now long gone) and as I was teaching I noticed a woman open a window opposite and step out onto the ledge.

    I don’t know why I did it but I threw up the old sash window and shouted over “Can I help you?” – thirty kids faces suddenly turned round to look. She stepped back in – I phoned the hospital.

    The teacher in the room next to me had run over and drawn down the blinds. It could have been so horribly different. Somehow something told me to confront her – it was a risk but it paid off. Only later I broke into a cold sweat!

    What an experience you had – pretty intense – well done!

  16. Brun says:

    Wow, Simon well done. That experience will be with you forever my brave friend. You definitely have a reason for being:)

  17. Jo Neale says:

    You have shown essential goodness and humanity. How wonderful that the world has people like you who will stop and try to help.
    You will have made a difference to not only her but also to her friends and family. I hope you’re OK too.

  18. Gerry says:

    Thank you Simon for caring. We don’t hear enough about the many people who do care in our world. It’s not as newsworthy apparently as bad news. I also held a young man back from jumping with Fr Colin, one of the priests from St Dominic’s when I used to play music at the Peoples’ Kitchen under the arches of the Tyne Bridge years ago and it is still clearly embedded in my memory. God bless you for what you did and for the work you do in education. It’s also refreshing to read other good peoples’ thoughts on this blog. Gerry
    PS A beautiful song that goes with treasuring each other ‘ I’ve known your heart’ by Ajimal http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9TSfcInPIE0

  19. doverock says:

    A testimony that people still care. You cared. I hope we all pass that caring on in appreciation of what you did. Sometimes we care but we are too busy to put that care into action.
    I will slow down long enough to demonstrate care.

  20. […] ..but the real stimulus for my writing came from a factual account that I read on Simon Finch’s blog last year – a piece that has left a profound and lasting impression upon me. You are not allowed to read my contribution until you have read Simon’s blogpost by clicking here […]

  21. Anon says:

    I am doing ASIST training (suicide intervention) next week and grudged doing it – I’ve got a busy week, it’s close to Christmas and it’s 2 long days when I need them least. After reading this blog it has brought home how important it could be – I will approach it as a fantastic opportunity.

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