3 People Who Talked Down Potential Jumpers

Dave Kotinsky, Getty Images
Dave Kotinsky, Getty Images / Dave Kotinsky, Getty Images

It’s not always a trained negotiator who talks a potential jumper off the ledge. Sometimes it’s a shock jock, a rapper, or a hotel maid.

1. Howard Stern Keeps Caller On the Line, On the Bridge

Howard Stern gets odd phone calls every day, but on the morning of December 7, 1994, he got a real doozy: 29-year-old Emilio Bonilla called Stern’s show while perched on the outer edge of New York’s George Washington Bridge.

Bonilla explained to Stern and co-host Robin Quivers that he was planning on jumping, and Stern decided that he had to do whatever it took to keep the Bonilla on the line until help could arrive. Stern later said, “Once I determined this was a jumper, I said: 'I have to keep this man laughing . . . until the cops get there.'"

Stern cracked that if Bonilla jumped, he’d miss the Stern’s upcoming film. Port Authority police who were listening to the show heard Stern joking with Bonilla and sent officers to the scene to pull the jumper back onto the bridge. Another Stern listener beat them to it, though. When Brooklyn’s Helen Trimble heard the Stern broadcast while crossing the bridge, she got out of her car, ran to Bonilla, and put him in a bearhug to keep him from jumping.

Police officers congratulated Stern on helping avert a potential tragedy, but Stern was self-deprecating about his actions. "Who better to help someone who is psychologically disturbed than Howard Stern, who himself is psychologically disturbed?" he joked.

2. Rapper Makes His Best Video

When a man was threatening to jump off of Atlanta’s 400 Colony Square building last October, he found an unlikely hero: rapper T.I. When T.I. heard about the potential jumper, he called Ryan Cameron of V-103, a radio station that’s headquartered in the building.

According to a Rolling Stone story about the incident, Cameron convinced the rapper to come down to the building to record a video message to the potential jumper. In the video, T.I. told the man, “Nothing is that bad. Nothing in life is worth taking your life. I'm here to help you. Please come down to talk to me.”

When police showed the man the video, he came back in from the ledge and talked to T.I. for several minutes before being taken to the hospital. T.I. played down his role in the incident, saying, “The fact of the matter is God put me in a position, and put in my spirit to be in the position to help, and I can't take any credit for that.”

3. Hotel Maid Saves Disco Queen

Celebrities don’t just save less famous folks; sometimes things work the other way around. In the late 1970s disco star Donna Summer was struggling with depression when she decided to jump from the 11th-floor window of a New York hotel room. According to Summer, she climbed onto the window sill and had one foot over the edge when her hotel maid walked into the room. Summer later said that the sudden appearance of the maid shocked her back into reality and caused her to come back in off the ledge.