Cars stopped but no one was helping me, says Limerick woman who saved man from suicide

A young woman who talked a man down from a bridge after he threatened to kill himself in the River Shannon has called for greater awareness surrounding suicide and depression.

Shauna O'Riordan, 19, said she was "absolutely shocked" when no one came to her aid as she clung to the man's legs after he clambered up on Shannon Bridge, in Limerick.

The man was about to jump, as rush-hour traffic whizzed by, but even though motorists stopped to watch, Shauna said nobody got out of their vehicle to help.

"I was holding his legs, so I was thinking: 'If I let you go, how could I ever get over that because there and then, your life is in my hands'," she said.

"Everything happened so fast. I grabbed onto him for dear life, (and) told him one million reasons not to jump in. He was screaming at me."

"I grabbed his face there and then and I said: 'You look at me - there's people who love you and you will get help'," she added.

Shauna said she was "crying for hours afterwards" after people ignored her while she tried to save the man.

"No one was helping me, and the traffic was stopped and there was people passing me," Shauna explained.

"I was shocked."

"There was a circle forming and I was thinking people are obviously going to look, but no one was going to help me, there was no one going to get out of their car and I was thinking why?"

"People could have thought we were a couple fighting but there was still someone up on the bridge. It was two o'clock in the day. I remember just holding his legs and just looking behind me and saying: "is their no one (coming)...seriously".

The part-time shop worker said she hoped her story would raise more awareness of people battling with their mental health.

She added: "People just look at other people as a lower class, if maybe, they're addicted to drugs or alcohol, or maybe they're not in the right state of mind.

"People look at them as if to say: 'Why would you bother saving someone like that?'

"I think that is so cruel, that we live in a world like that today. Everyone has a life and everyone deserves respect."

Eventually, two men came to Shauna's aid. The courageous teenager had already pulled the man off the bridge twice but her strength finally gave up just as the two male helpers arrived.

"Depression and suicide (aren't) getting any lower, and to be honest I don't think we have such great mental health facilities, because it's on a rise and it's not on a low," Shauna said.

"Just talk, and doing the smallest thing sometimes goes a long way.

Last week, mother-of-three Leona O'Callaghan, from Castletroy, who attempted suicide, gave a unique personal insight into how mental health services had failed her.

The 35-year old, who spent two months in the HSE psychiatric "5B unit" in Limerick, while dealing with a trauma from her childhood called for better training for staff and has written to the Minister for Health to facilitate better services for patients.

Earlier this year Leaving Certificate student Katie Whelan, Rhebogue, won council backing to "Light up Limerick's bridges" with anti-suicide messages of hope.

Meanwhile, the Corbett Suicide Prevention Patrol, a group of volunteers, continues to patrol the city's bridges day and night to try to prevent a rising number of suicides on the River Shannon.


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