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Francis Gonzalez, who volunteers American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, helped talk the man down from the bridge

By Rachel DeSantis
July 09, 2020 01:53 PM
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A Massachusetts woman who was in the right place at the right time managed to help talk down a man who appeared to be contemplating suicide over a bridge.

Francis Gonzalez and her two teenage daughters were headed home from a medical appointment in late June, and decided to take a different route back than usual, they told the Lowell Sun.

As they passed a bridge in Lowell, daughter Francheska Ortiz, 19, spotted a man who had climbed over the railing.

“She says, ‘Mom, oh my god, look at that guy. I think he needs help, he’s going to jump,” Gonzalez, 40, told WBZ.

The family parked their car, and Gonzalez rushed over to ask if he was okay, which immediately prompted a flood of tears from the man.

A volunteer for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, she knew just what to say, according to the Lowell Sun.

“[I said] ‘There’s hope. I’m a stranger, I know I am. But I am here to help you. I see you, I hear you,’” she recalled to WBZ.

Gonzalez went to call 911, but realized she’d left her phone in the car — at which point a second Good Samaritan passed by, and after Gonzalez gestured to her, called police.

The entire ordeal lasted between 20 and 30 minutes, Gonzalez estimated, and when police arrived, the man eventually climbed back over the railing and was transported to the hospital for a mental health evaluation, WBZ reported.

“He did end up turning around, and we brought him over the railing,” she told the outlet. “I gave him a big hug. And I said, ‘You’re going to make it. Thank you for giving yourself another chance.’”

She added: “I appreciate life, but it made me appreciate life even more.”

Though Gonzalez helped ensure the incident didn’t end in tragedy, she told the Lowell Sun she’ll “never forget” the “pain” and “despair” she saw on the man’s face.

“Obviously someone goes through a lot to get to the point of wanting to do something like that,” Ortiz told the outlet. “I just wonder if he’s okay now and if he got the help he needed.”

A spokesperson for the Lowell Police Department did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.