Jesse Harrison was driving home from an evening training session at the gym when he saw something disturbing—a man, car abandoned on the shoulder of the Auckland Harbour Bridge, climbing the railing to jump. A 14-story drop to the water below waited on the other side.
The New Zealand-based blue belt, mixed martial arts fighter, and gym instructor detailed to The New Zealand Herald how he immediately pulled over and sprinted to where the jumper was.
“I’m in jandals, so I’m trying to get there as fast as I can as he makes his way over the edge,” Harrison said, going on to explain how he began a positive dialogue with the distressed man. The jumper said he had no family, but Harrison asserted life was worth living anyway.
New Zealand has one of the highest suicide rates in the developed world. 2018 marked the highest rates of suicide the country has on record.
During this talk two other men joined Jesse in his rescue effort. Apparently the trio, who continued to talk with the man, had to act fast as rush hour traffic delayed police response and the refused to climb down. On a count of three they grabbed and pulled the man back over the railing—an effort Harrison said he wouldn’t have been able to do alone—then held him in place while waiting for assistance.
“This wasn’t one of the suicide attempts that you hear of people being calmed down and coming over to the safe side,” Harrison wrote in a Facebook post after the incident. “It was life or death. The tighter the grip the safer he was. We couldn’t risk him jumping so for his safety.”
The young fighter, who is 10-3 in the amateur ring, left the encounter a bit shaken but with a positive message:
“This is showing everyone that a life was saved…you never really know what people are going through and to look into someone’s eyes knowing that if you let them go they are gone, is such a powerful feeling.
We have one of the highest suicide rates for men in the world and If there’s anything to believe in it’s that there’s always someone to help, no matter what circumstance your in.”
Jesse Harrison teaches at Shuriken Martial Arts.