Teens help suicidal man after passersby do nothing

Kian Henderson (left) and Ellis Coupland

Story highlights

  • It's not a situation too many people find themselves in
  • And fewer still would know how to respond

(CNN)Ah teenagers. We accuse them of trying too hard, acting too cool, caring too little.

But not Ellis Coupland and Kian Henderson -- two 16-year-olds from Sunderland, North East England, who knew exactly what to do when they saw a man standing on a bridge, thinking about jumping.
    People walked by, oblivious or indifferent.
    But not the school mates.
    Now they're being hailed as local heroes for talking a suicidal man down from possible death.

    A man in distress

    The boys were coming home from the movies when Kian spotted the man.
    It's not a situation too many people find themselves in. And fewer still would know how to respond.
    But after the boys saw someone walk past the man with barely a glance, they realized they had to do something.
    So they began to talk to him.
    They asked him what was wrong; they offered him words of comfort, they later told CNN.
    He told them how 10 people had walked past without stopping, they said.
    Sometime later, they'd convinced him to climb back over the railings.

    All ends well

    By then the police had arrived.
    A Northumbria Police spokeswoman confirmed the incident, and added that responding officers noted the man was extremely grateful to the boys.
    "The boys displayed great compassion in helping someone who was clearly distressed, taking the time to stop and speak to the man," she told CNN.
    The man, whom officers helped back to safety, shook the boys' hands and they went on their way.
    "And that was it," Ellis said, in typical "No big deal" teen speak.

    Praise all around

    Ellis did have some pointers for those who find themselves in a similar situation: Keep calm.
    "Give them the best advice you can and try not worry them" he said.
    Understandably, Ellis' mother, Alex Brown, is extremely proud of the two boys.
    "Sometimes all someone needs is someone to talk to," she said.
    Dorothy Gardiner of the local mental health organization, Sunderland Mind, also commended the pair's quick thinking.
    Fortunately, she said, "people do intervene."