Trigger Warning: This story contains details of suicide and suicidal Ideation that may be disturbing to some readers
When Sammy Farah, Devonte Cafferkey, and Shawn Young were on their way home from school they noticed a man sitting on the edge of an overpass with a rope around his neck. The teens were quick to realize the gravity of the situation and rushed to prevent the man from jumping off the bridge.
While bystanders either looked in horror or retreated in panic, the schoolgoers—who were at the time only 14, 13, and 12-years-old respectively—didn’t hesitate to run towards the man, in a unique display of compassion, heroism, and quick-thinking. “It was just a normal day coming home from school, we were going to chill at Devonte’s house,” said Young during an interview with ITV News.
“We were going to the shops for some snacks and as we walked up someone told us, ‘There is a crazy man,'” he recalled of the incident that unfolded on September 21, 2017. The boys immediately jumped into action and did everything in their power to save the man’s life. “Devonte and Sam went to hold him but it kicked in that we can’t do this by ourselves, so I went to get help, the road was quite busy that day,” noted Young.
“He was crying and wiping his eyes, we said ‘you’ve got family, it’s not worth it’.”
Three black British school boys will receive a national service award for saving man attempting to commit suicide: https://t.co/KcKDduz0v6 pic.twitter.com/CEEQ2R8I2A
— The Root (@TheRoot) April 8, 2018
It was a rather tough task for the impressionable teen as the man tried to jump off even as the students attempted to talk him out of it, according to Mirror. At that moment, the grabbed onto the man and refused to let go. As they restrained the man, Young ran into the traffic seeking help and was nearly hit by a car. “I didn’t know what to do, I was just knocking on neighbors’ doors and I stopped cars,” he recalled. “I ran so quickly into the road that a car nearly hit me.”
Joanne Stammers was the one behind the wheels who halted her vehicle after noticing the “absolute fear” in the boy’s eyes. As she followed him to help, they saw Cafferkey was holding on to the man’s leg through the railings while Farah held both his arms tightly while urging the man to stop resisting. “He just kept saying let go,” recounted Farah. “When I ran over I was scared he was going to attack me. I didn’t want to see him die.”
During the struggle, the man reportedly handed his car keys and phone to the boys telling him, “If it rings, don’t answer it.” Stammers, a registered disabled person with Klippel–Trénaunay syndrome, immediately took over from the boys with the help of another stranger named James Higlett. Stammers’ condition meant that she was highly prone to blood clotting despite being left with bruising all over her arms, she refused to let go.
After 10 minutes, officers arrived at the scene and brought the man back to safety. Even the police officers had a hard time getting him down. “He [the man] was trying to throw himself backward and they were leaning back and all their weight was trying to hold him back,” said Stammers. “He was fighting the whole time, he was not willing to talk or anything, he just really wanted to die. He kept going to pass out and that added to the weight. Police managed to (secure him) and then it was just a fight to hold him.”
“I feel like they were meant to be there to help him.” expressed Young’s mom, Carol. “I am extremely proud of all three of them, they are all good boys and it’s nice that they are getting recognized for doing something good in the community. Quite often in the national news, there are a lot of negative reports about young people so it is nice to have something positive. They are very young and I marvel at how they are all dealing with it.” All three picked up Special Achievement Awards at the Broxbourne Youth Awards for their bravery.
Cover image source: YouTube Screenshot | Steve TV Show