For many, it’s hard to decide what to do when you see a complete stranger in distress.
Do you just give an encouraging smile or nod and continue on your way? You could ignore the situation entirely, thinking it’s really none of your business. Fortunately, a Dublin teenager who found himself in this situation a couple years ago could tell neither was the right path to take and intervened… ultimately saving a man’s life.
The teen, Jamie Harrington, was on his way to pick up some Gatorade when he saw a man sitting on the ledge of the Ha’penny Bridge in Dublin. Maybe it was his posture or his demeanor, but something struck Jamie as odd, so he carefully approached.
“Are you okay?” he simply asked.
The man, who appeared to be in his mid-30s, didn’t respond. But “I saw tears coming from his eyes,” Jamie wrote in a Facebook post, so the man was obviously in some level of distress.
Jamie estimates at least 1,000 people must have walked past the man that day, maybe some of whom picked up on the distress signals. But instead of continuing on his way like everyone else, letting the man sort things out for himself, Jamie stopped and talked to him.
After some cajoling, he talked the man down from the ledge and they settled on the sidewalk. There Jamie spent close to an hour easing the man’s troubles and finding out why he believed suicide was the only way out.
After 45 minutes, Jamie realized he had to get going, but he didn’t want to leave the man alone. Despite the man’s pleas to let him just walk it off, Jamie called for an ambulance, and the man was transported to a nearby hospital for help.
The two exchanged numbers so Jamie could check up on him. A few months after they originally met on the bridge the man texted Jamie to say “his girlfriend was pregnant and they were going to name their baby after me.” Jamie went on, “Can you believe that? They’re going to name their child after me…”
“He said in that moment that I approached him, he was just about to jump, and those few words saved his life. That they’re still ringing in his head every day. ‘Are you okay?’ I can’t really understand how these few words could save his life, but he told me, ‘Imagine if nobody ever asked you those words…’”
Despite the praise he’s received, Jamie declines the “hero” title, saying he only wanted to help — and fortunately, it worked out. Standing on the bridge that day, “it didn’t take much for me to stop and ask him if he was OK. He just needed to talk and I was just being nice and that costs nothing at all.”
Listen to Jamie’s account of the encounter below. Share to encourage more people to take action when they see signs of someone in distress!