Turkish President Erdogan Persuades Man From Jumping From Bridge


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President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, greeted a man whom he had dissuaded from jumping off the Bosporus Bridge in Istanbul.

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Yasin Bulbul/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

ISTANBUL — Turkey’s president has often been described as a rhetorical tactician and “man of the people” who excels at rebuttals and rejoinders when challenged by critics on almost any issue. But on Friday, the president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, used his skills of verbal persuasion to save a despondent man as he sought to jump off the Bosporus Bridge here.

In what amounted to a Turkish take on the Hollywood Christmas classic “It’s a Wonderful Life,” Mr. Erdogan found himself in the role of Clarence the angel, rescuing George Bailey from suicide.

 Mr. Erdogan spotted the man while crossing over the bridge in his presidential convoy after attending a Friday Prayer service. As soon as he saw the commotion surrounding the man lurking by the railings,  he ordered his driver to stop and summoned the man to his car, according to local news reports.

 Video images showed a middle-aged man in a cap being intercepted by Mr. Erdogan’s bodyguards, who conveyed that the president wanted to speak with him in his car.  The man, who at first appeared dazed and confused, cooperated after he got a glimpse of the president through the window of his armored limousine.

 He started sobbing at the sight of Mr. Erdogan, and kissed his hand in a show of respect. The man was then seen conversing with the president, who dissuaded him from taking his own life after making some calls to the authorities and ordering them to help, the semiofficial Anadolu News Agency reported.

The man had come to Istanbul from the eastern city of Siirt and had severe depression, Turkish news reports said. His suicide attempt was a response to family problems, according to presidential aides who spoke to the Turkish news media after the incident.

 Dozens of people try to take their lives each year by plunging off the Bosporus Bridge into the waters that divide Istanbul’s European and Asian sides.



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