Features writer talks suicide bid man down from rooftop

Call for help: a suicidal Mr Cooper (above) called Barrie Hudson (right) from the roof of a car park

A reporter who answered the phone to a suicidal man ended up going on to the roof of a multi-storey car park to help talk him down.

Swindon Evening Advertiser features writer Barrie Hudson answered the phone to a man identifying himself as Mr Cooper, who told him to write down his story because he would be dead soon.

Cooper,30, claimed that he had been wrongly convicted of car theft and would rather die than have his girlfriend and baby daughter see him go to prison. He was standing on the roof of a multi-storey car park and speaking on his mobile phone.

After about five minutes the line went dead because the man had spotted police officers approaching him.

Then Hudson was called by Wiltshire Police who said they wanted him to go with them to the car park roof and help talk the man down.

Hudson persuaded the man to walk with him to floor level after an hour.

The would-be jumper was arrested and, after undergoing a mental assessment, was found to be sane.

Hudson said: “I begged him to think of his loved ones, of their having to dress in black and attend his funeral, of his child not having a dad only a fading photograph of a man she would never meet.”

He said he also offered to buy him a beer afterwards and even suggested that the 50-feet drop might not have been high enough to prove fatal.

In his first-person piece about the ordeal Hudson, a former Regional Press Awards winner, said: “If you are reading this Mr Cooper, I can’t begin to know what stresses and horrors drove you to do what you did. All I do know is that alive is better than dead. Dead means the end and alive means the chance of making things better. And a chance is better than no chance.”

Inspector Ian Bamber, from Swindon Police, said: “What Barrie did was far beyond what we could have expected from him. He did very well, especially as he is not a trained negotiator.

We are extremely grateful for the assistance he gave us.”

Bizarrely, this was the second time the Swindon journalist has helped talk a suicidal person down from a rooftop. Two years ago he received a phone call at the office from a woman sitting on the roof of the same car park. He managed to keep her talking long enough for police to creep up behind her and take her to safety.

By Dominic Ponsford

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