After spending hours dangling precariously from a sign above an Oklahoma highway as onlookers worried he would jump to his death Tuesday, a man in mental distress was convinced that life was worth living by a good Samaritan who told him, “God loves you.”
"God loves you guy," the good Samaritan, Rick Jewell, said he told the unidentified man, according to News Channel 8.
“I just started talking to him, and I told him there was more to life than what he was doing and that God loved him. He looked at me, and I told him to throw me his cigarettes. He threw me those. I said, 'Throw me that rope.' He threw me that rope. And I said, 'Now get down from there.' I said, 'They’re going to help you.' He headed down. Simple. It’s crazy."
"But I also told you what I did for 15 minutes over there before you showed up. I was praying," Jewell told the station. "So, that had a lot to do with it, I’m sure."
Tulsa Police told Newson6 that the department is relieved that the man climbed down from a sign over I-244 on his own, unhurt after nearly seven hours. The police said he climbed up to the sign around 9 a.m. and did not come down until approximately 4 p.m.
Tulsa Police Officer Andre Baul told Newson6 that he spoke with the distressed man for about one hour with the help of fire officials, and they tried not to rush him.
"We want to make sure we give them time. We don’t want to rush the situation. And all of our training tells us that we don't rush the situation, we don't rush up, we don’t grab them or try to pull them down," Baul said.
He explained that the man previously had contact with negotiators in a separate incident and noted that he was in distress about ongoing legal issues in his life.
"He was scared about the future, about what he was going to be facing once he came down," Baul said.
Onlooker Trei Jackson told News Channel 8 that even after six hours, the man in distress did not respond to calls for him to climb down from the sign until Jewell intervened.
"Ole’ boy told him that Jesus loves you, basically, and that you ain’t do no wrong, to come down, just ask for help. He came down," Jackson said.
Tulsa Police said the man received medical treatment after he climbed down from the sign.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline — 1-800-273-8255 — is available for individuals in crisis or for people looking to help someone who may be in crisis.