Semi truck drivers have been helping with suicides for years, MSP says

- If you or a loved one is feeling distressed, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The crisis center provides free and confidential emotional support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to civilians and veterans. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Or text to 741-741 

CLICK HERE for the warning signs and risk factors of suicide. Call 1-800-273-TALK for free and confidential emotional support. 

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13 semi truck drivers became heroes Tuesday morning as they helped Michigan State Police coax a man off a busy highway overpass.

The Michigan State Police organized a unique way to help a man who was threatening suicide on a highway overpass: they pulled together multiple semi truck drivers to help shorten the fall.

It's a tactic that most of us haven't seen before but we learned today it's actually something Michigan State Police have been doing for decades: line up semi trucks next to each other in hopes that if someone were to jump, the fall is shorter. Lt. Mike Shaw says they started this 23 years ago.

"We have been doing this for as long as I have been in the department, which is 1995. We have kept it quiet for that long but social media and cell phones kind of changes that," Shaw said.

Lt. Shaw says they lined up the 13 semi trucks to hopefully shorten the distance to the ground. When they got the 911 call around 1 a.m., MSP shut down the highway down in both directions.

"We know that usually if someone jumps from that height it's usually not going to be a good outcome," he said. "We will actually steal semi trucks out of the crowd and as we get the cars off the freeway we will direct the semis to another trooper that's standing underneath the bridge and we will start to line them up right across."

13 semis line Detroit freeway to help man considering suicide

What's more, Shaw says there's never been an issue getting the busy drivers to step up.

"They want to help out too. Nobody wants to see somebody take their own life and if it takes parking your truck underneath an overpass for a couple of hours to make sure somebody's is safe, they're more than willing to do something like that," Shaw said.

While the trucks parked, negotiations were happening with the man on the bridge. After about 3 hours - they were able to get him down where he was taken to the hospital to get help.

"What we were able to do is kind of rectify that trigger and get him to decide that he was better off living than dying," Shaw said.

Despite Shaw saying the department has been doing this since 1995, many FOX 2 viewers said they've never head of something like this. Shaw wants the takeaway to be that help is out there. 

"There are so many other options for help, be it the National Suicide Prevention hotline, clergy, family, call 911, call somebody. There are so many other options than climbing up on that overpass, Shaw said.

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If you or a loved one is feeling distressed, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The crisis center provides free and confidential emotional support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to civilians and veterans. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Or text to 741-741 

CLICK HERE for the warning signs and risk factors of suicide. Call 1-800-273-TALK for free and confidential emotional support. 

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