In 1976, Shavarsh Karapetyan, an armenian Olympic swimmer, had just completed a 12 mile run he saw a bus crash into a dam reservoir. The bus sank 80 ft offshore at a depth of 33 ft. Shavarsh immediately dove in and swam to the bus and despite zero visibility, managed to kick in the back window, injuring himself in the process. He proceeded to save 20 people trapped in the bus, one at a time, for hours. The combined effect of the cold water and his inquiries from breaking the glass window led to his hospitalization for 45 days after the incident, during which time he developed pneumonia, sepsis, and lung damage which ended his athletic career. For years, his story wasn’t known, until an article about the event identified him by name in 1982. In 1985, he happened to pass by a burning building and rushed inside, again saving people trapped inside one at a time until he collapsed. He was again hospitalized with severe burns and lung damage.
The mentality of ‘not wanting to get involved’ often prevents people from making a huge difference when they see something unjust or tragic about to happen.
Fortunately, children are much purer in their hearts than adults, and ‘not wanting to get involved’ was far from the thoughts of three heroes no older than 14, when on Sept. 21, 2017, they saved a suicidal man from jumping to his death.
Devonte Cafferkey, 13, Sammy Farah, 14, and Shawn Young, 12, were coming home from St Mary’s High School in Cheshunt, Hertfordshire, when they noticed a man sitting at the edge of an overpass in Waltham Cross, with a rope strung around his neck.
Yet, they didn’t panic, and simply approached the man and tried to coax him from the edge.
They attempted to dissuade him, but he turned and prepared to jump. At this point, they grabbed onto him and refused to let go.
Shawn calmly called for help, and two passers-by came to help rescue the man, James Higlett, and 47-year-old Joanne Stammers.
Stammers said that when she approached the man, he was crying.
Appearing on ITV’s This Morning show last year, Devonte told interviewers that they ran and got help and saw a rope around his neck. They were persuading him not to jump, while he was crying and wiping his eyes. The boys said, ‘You’ve got family, it’s not worth it.’”
Carol, Shawn’s mother later explained that the boys told her that as they were holding on to the man, he began passing out, making it harder for them to manage his weight and hold him back.
Fortunately, the boys held onto the man long enough for the road around the Waltham Cross to close as a precaution, and the man was taken to hospital at around 6:20 pm.
Carol was fascinated by the maturity of the boys. When Shawn told her what happened when he came home, she left him to finish, and she was smiling all the time, as there was nothing she could add to it.
While trying to keep the man back and talk him out of suicide, Shawn passed the boys his mobile phone saying ‘if it rings, don’t answer it’.”
Jacqueline Cafferkey, Devonte’s mother, said the incident was traumatic for him, and he did not want to go to school that Monday, which “never happens” according to his mom. She adds that she is filled with pride, and she keeps telling him that he has saved someone’s life, which is a huge thing.
Mohamed Farah, Sammy’s dad, described his son as a ‘quiet and humble boy’, that likes to help people. He adds that the act of the boys was bravery.
Joanne Stammers is disabled with Klippel–Trénaunay syndrome, a rare condition that makes her highly prone to blood clotting. Yet, this did not stop her from helping the man, and at the end, she was left with bruises all over her arms.
All five heroes will receive awards from the Royal Humane Society, a charity that promotes life-saving interventions.
Carol added that she is extremely proud of all three of the boys and that it is great that they are getting recognized for doing something good in the community.
The heroes received the Special Achievement Awards at the Broxbourne Youth Awards for their bravery.
Joanne said the award was a “great honor” and she keeps in touch with Jacqueline Cafferkey, Devonte’s mother. She added that she is pleased for the boys, and she hopes other children will learn that it’s worth stopping to help someone.
Joanne was on her way back from seeing her mother in Waltham Cross when Shawn asked her help. She keeps going under the bridge once a week, but she avoids the route now, whenever possible.
Suicide is a major national public health issue in the United States. On average, adjusted for age, the annual U.S. suicide rate increased by 24% between 1999 and 2014, from 10.5 to 13.0 suicides per 100,000 people, the highest rate recorded in 28 years.
Additionally, suicide is generally underreported, as a result of the stigma surrounding it.
Unfortunately, rates have continued to increase.
Pinpointing the reasons for suicide rates rise is challenging partly since the causes of suicide are complex. Risk factors include health factors (like depression, substance use problems, serious mental illness and serious physical health conditions including pain), environmental factors (like access to lethal means and stressful life events such as divorce, unemployment, relationship problems or financial crisis) and historical factors (previous suicide attempts, a family history of suicide and a history of childhood abuse or trauma).
Christine Moutier, MD, chief medical officer of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, claims that at the individual level, there is never a single cause of suicide. There are always multiple risk factors.
Experts claim that a key message is that there is genuine hope for people considering suicide.
Joel Dvoskin, Ph.D., ABPP, a clinical and forensic psychologist in Arizona and New Mexico maintains that suicide is about despair, and the only cure for despair is hope.
By helping people to regain hope, we could talk them out of it and persuade them to see the beauty of life once again.