Michael Blackmore came across a man sitting on the edge of a bridge over South Carolina Route 277 threatening to jump and did the only thing he could think to do — talked about football.
And it worked.
The South Carolina police officer is being hailed as a hero after his unconventional strategy helped prevent a suicide last week. Footage of Blackmore’s rescue went viral this week, showing his cool under pressure.
The video showed Blackmore arrive on the scene to find the man crying and dangling his feet over S.C. 277 in Columbia. The man can be heard telling Michael Blackmore that he’s tired of living and wanted to jump.
Blackmore started to comfort the man.
“I have bad nights, too, sometimes,” the officer answered (via the State).
It was then that Blackmore decided to pose a simple question to get the man’s mind off what had been troubling him.
“You like watching football?” he asked. “Who’s your team?”
“Washington,” the man answered as he stopped sobbing.
Blackmore went on to talk to the man about the Redskins and South Carolina Gamecocks, discussing their upcoming games and bonding over their mutual dislike of the Dallas Cowboys. As the two talked about football, the officer moved closer until he was within reaching distance of the suicidal man.
“Come back over here, we want you to be able to watch the game,” he said.
Blackmore made a promise to the man: The next time they saw each other, Blackmore would stop so they could talk about the game and who won. As he did, the man began to ease up and eventually allowed Blackmore and another officer ease him off the edge of the bridge.
Blackmore promised the man that he wasn’t in trouble and wouldn’t face any charges.
“You’re just having a bad night tonight,” Blackmore told him. “But tomorrow night, when you’re sitting around and you’re watching the Gamecocks – or on Sunday when you’re watching the Redskins play or whatever – you’ll look back (like), ‘Man, what was I thinking Friday night?’ You’re just having a bad night.”
Video of the rescue can be seen below.
Amazingly, it’s not the first time that Michael Blackmore used football to talk a suicidal man out of ending his life. As the State reported, he did the same a few days before for a Notre Dame fan.
“Just a month ago, he was first on the scene where a man seemed prepared to jump from a parking garage on Main Street. Browder – who is in training with the police department – was with him for that as well.
“‘It was pretty much the same exact thing,’ Blackmore said. ‘I ended up talking to the guy about football. He told me he was a Notre Dame fan.'”
Although the incident took place more than a week ago, footage has started to go viral and many people have taken to Twitter to praise Blackmore’s quick thinking.
The story of the officer’s rescue was also a bit of a bright spot in a stretch of news otherwise dominated by bad police behavior. In the last week, there were protests in Tulsa and Charlotte after questionable police shootings of black men. But many people pointed to Blackmore as an example of the kind of good police do every day, usually without acknowledgment.
When they see each other again, Michael Blackmore and the man he saved will have a lot to talk about. The Gamecocks are off to a 2-1 start, winning the game the day after Blackmore’s rescue. The Redskins are off to a 0-2 start, with the matchup with the Cowboys still looming.
[Featured Image by Richard Shiro/AP Images]