645 suicides prevented from Istanbul bridges in three years
ISTANBUL - Anadolu Agency
Turkish police have saved 645 people from jumping off the bridges in Istanbul over the last three years, according to security sources.
In 2015, Istanbul’s Security Directorate set up a “negotiation team,” affiliated to the police department, responsible for the bridges in the city and to prevent suicide attempts from the July 15 Martyrs’ Bridge, Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge and Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge, all of which connect Asia and Europe.
Comprising of 24 police officers, the team received training on psychology, crisis communication, persuasion, body language and anger control.
The squad members dealt with a total of 654 suicidal individuals on the bridges over the past three years, successfully persuading 645 people not to make an attempt take their own lives.
Mehmet Ali Demir, a team member, said their first objective is to get to know the person who is attempting suicide.
Demir said they set a negotiation method in accordance with the information obtained through background checks.
During his career, Demir negotiated with a total of 157 individuals. And he has succeeded in all those cases.
No physical contact
“First of all, we disperse the curious eyes around at the scene. We do not get into any physical contact with the person being negotiated for up to one-and-a-half hour,” Saadettin Çakır, another team member, told state-run Anadolu Agency.
Çakır has successfully helped 75 people.
A youth, whom he once saved from committing suicide, came with his university diploma to thank him, Çakır remembers.
“A university student was hanging down from bridge, holding the safety rails. I noticed that his arms were tired and sliding down gradually during the negotiation,” he recalled.
“When I asked him, ‘Do you want me to pull you up?’ he replied, ‘Save me, brother.’ At that moment I pulled him up,” Çakır said.
Fikret Erdoğan, another police officer, noted that their aim is to determine the reason leading to the suicide attempt.
Erdoğan noted that they approach the person according to the individual’s stress level.
“Saving lives is our duty,” he said.