Negotiators save 645 from jumping off Istanbul bridges in three years

DAILY SABAH WITH AA
ISTANBUL
Published

Istanbul's three bridges connect thousands of people every day to either sides of the city straddled between Asia and Europe. For some, they are perfect way to have their suicide etched in the public memory. Turkish police have saved 645 people from jumping off these bridges in Istanbul over the last three years.

In 2015, Istanbul's Security Directorate set up a "negotiation team" consisting of 24 officers from local police departments, to prevent suicide attempts off of the July 15 Martyrs Bridge, the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge and the Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge. The team received training in psychology, crisis communication, persuasion, body language and anger control.

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. "First of all, we disperse curious eyes around the scene. We do not get into any physical contact with the person we are negotiating with," Saadettin Çakır, another team member, told Anadolu Agency. "Negotiations sometimes end in 15 minutes and sometimes last for hours." Çakır said a young man he once saved from committing suicide, came with his college diploma to thank him. "A university student was hanging from the side of the bridge, holding the safety rails. I noticed that his arms were tired and sliding down gradually during the negotiation. "When I asked him if he wanted me to pull him, he replied, 'Save me, brother'," Çakır said. Çakır has worked on 75 bridge suicide cases and incredibly has convinced all of them not to jump off.

Fikret Erdoğan, another police officer, said it is vitally important to determine the reason leading to the suicide attempt. "We determine which approach to apply, based on the stress level of the person," he said.

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