New Jersey police responded to a call Monday on the edge of a Route 78 overpass and found a father who was ready to take his own life.
"You got a son right?" Newark police officer Aziz Yasin is seen in bodycam footage asking the man. "I'm tired," the man told him.
"I’m not gonna act like I know whats’ going on in your life. I don’t. We all got everyday struggles. I went through a lot of struggles in my life too, but at the same time, what you have to realize is that what you're thinking right about now, your son is going to have to deal with that every day of his life. Every day without you. You have to understand that," Yasin said to the man hanging on the edge of the overpass at West Runyon Street and Irvine Turner Boulevard.
Using empathy and compassion, Yasin, his partner and the man's father tried to tell the unidentified man that there's still a lot to live for, even if it doesn't feel like that right now.
Yasin and his partner told the man that they're also from the south. Yasin tried to connect with the man by telling him that he grew up on Elizabeth Avenue. His partner told the man that he was two kids and that he understands how the man feels.
For officer Yasin, de-escalation meant putting himself in the man's shoes.
"He mentioned no one loved him. We mentioned we love you man," Yasin recalled the emotional moment that occurred in less than 10 minutes.
"You got three men here that love you," one of the rescuers can be heard telling the man as they pulled him back onto the overpass. "You got people that care about you man. Remember that, you understand?"
Even a stranger who watched the scene unfold stepped in to offer the man some comfort.
"I don’t know you let me give you a hug please," the witness said.
The officers then took the man to a hospital where he was offered mental health services, according to the police department.
Public Safety Director Brian O'Hara said the officers did exactly what they were supposed to do and credited de-escalation training in preventing an untimely death.
Since 2016, the police department has been implementing anti-bias training, revamped its use-of-force policies, taken a harder line against problem officers, stepped up investigations into excessive force, and expanded programs to improve community relations, according to local officials and the court-appointed monitor overseeing the city’s compliance with a settlement with the Justice Department over unconstitutional policing.
Their work is complemented by a network of neighborhood-based organizations that aim to curb violence by sending social workers to address mental illness and homelessness and former offenders to mediate disputes, NBC News reported. These types of programs, long sought by activists, have recently become part of a national conversation about reducing the police’s role in some public safety functions.
If you or someone you know is at risk of suicide please call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, text TALK to 741741 or go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional resources.