It really is tragic when a person gets so low and hopeless in life that they consider doing the unthinkable and taking their own life. Sadly, this is something that happens every single day across the country, in what some mental health experts refer to as a 'suicide epidemic', particularly among young men.
In the midst of all that sad news, a story of hope, humanity and compassion has come out of Michigan in the last few days.
Michigan State Police, along with 13 truck drivers who happened to be in the area, have made national news this week, after banding together to help a suicidal man who was contemplating jumping off an overpass. The incredibly moving photo that resulted from the incident has proceeded to go viral, with people expressing thanks to the kind folks involved for their ingenuity and dedication.
Fox 2 reports that at around 1 a.m. Tuesday morning, the Michigan State Police (MSP) received a call from someone about a suicidal man threatening to jump from an overpass onto the highway below him. Quickly jumping into action, MSP completely closed down the eastbound lanes of the highway.
According to the Detroit News, officers approached semi truck drivers in the area that were delayed by the highway closure for help. As more trucks enlisted, authorities shut down the westbound lanes of the highway too.
How could truckers possibly help, you might ask? Well, quite simply, to stand between the man and the highway, to stop him from jumping to his death.
The idea was to try to shorten the man's fall if he did decide to jump, reducing the chance that his fall would be fatal. While the struggling man contemplated the decision to end his own life, authorities attempted to talk him down - meanwhile, 13 semi truck drivers lined up their big rigs and turned them into a "truck wall" that spanned the entire length of the highway, just in case the police's efforts didn't work.
The Detroit News reports that, while gathering and lining the trucks up only took a few minutes, the trucks were stationed there for about four hours, until 4 in the morning, while authorities dealt with the incident. Thankfully, their efforts were a major success, and the man -- who police only identified as being 30 years old and from Oakland County, Michigan -- didn't jump after all.
MSP said the man walked off the overpass of his own accord and was taken into police custody "without incident," where he was then transported to a nearby hospital, where we can only hope that he gets the help that he needs.
A representative from MSP said that incidents as drastic as the one on Tuesday morning happen very rarely. Because of that, the semi-truck drivers have no real protocol or guidebook to follow - apparently, "The troopers tell them what to do."
Sean McNally, a spokesperson for the American Trucking Association, told the Detroit News that the trucking community is very proud of the drivers there that morning. "The photo makes us so proud and shows quick thinking," he said. "It also shows how our industry works with law enforcement to keep our highways safe and the quality of people we have driving."
After Tuesday night's ordeal, the MSP tweeted out a moving photo of the semi trucks lined up on the highway. "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," the tweet read.
They encouraged anyone needing help with suicide prevention to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. In a separate tweet, MSP urged anyone who needed help to call a loved one, 911, or a member of the clergy: "There are so many people that can help you make the choice to get help and live! It is our hope to never see another photo like this again."
MSP's tweets around the incident soon went viral, with people lining up to thank authorities and the truck drivers for the incredible work they did to help save a man's life. We at Aunty Acid would like to express our sincerest thanks too - you guys are real-life superheroes.
If you or someone you know has expressed suicidal thoughts, please let them know they are not alone. Call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline on 1-800-273-8255, text START to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741, or visit the Suicide Prevention Resource Center at www.sprc.org. If you're in the UK, you can call Samaritans on 116 123.