Superman fails to stop suicide

PUBLISHED: 08:35 16 July 2008 | UPDATED: 22:04 15 June 2010

AN AXMINSTER man dressed as Superman failed to save another man from leaping to his death when PCSOs ran onto the scene and 'startled' him.

AN AXMINSTER man dressed as Superman failed to save another man from leaping to his death - when PCSOs ran onto the scene and 'startled' him.And a coroner at the Croydon inquest made it clear that PCSOs were not fully trained police officers. Tarryn Sparkes, 22, of Woodbury Park, felt he could have saved 79-year-old Derrick Hill from jumping 60ft to his death had it not been for the intervention of the community support officers. "They came in all guns blazing. If they hadn't have been there, we perhaps could have got him down," he said.In August of last year the professional fundraiser was returning to a multi-storey car park in Orpington High Street after a charity event when he saw Mr Hill standing around."I saw him looking suspicious and I spoke to him, to see what was going on," said Mr Sparkes."He was looking over the edge and said 'I want to jump'. I thought he was joking - until he started to climb the wall. "I put my hand on his shoulder and said I wanted to help - he asked 'why'."Tarryn asked a woman driving by to call the police, who advised him to keep his distance but try to talk him down.He said: "We spoke about the weather. He just gave one word responses, but he was calming down. I felt I could have saved him - but the PCSOs shouted and startled him." The inquest heard how Mr Hill then lowered himself by his fingers and let go."It was horrible to see him fall, very upsetting at the time," said Mr Sparkes. "It came as a great shock and for the next week I kept thinking about it."It was also upsetting for Mr Sparkes to meet the suicide jumper's wife at the inquest.And fear of being sued stopped Mr Sparkes pulling Mr Hill from the ledge.He said: "I have no doubt in my mind that I could have physically pulled him off the wall. But I was worried, if he fell and someone saw me with my hand on him, they would think it was my fault. "It's a reflection of society today."Claire Duncan, of the Samaritans, agreed it was not always advisable for a person to physically intervene.She said: "If someone is not in a normal state, it might not be wise to approach them as they could be putting themselves at risk. But it is an individual's choice. "The Samaritans wouldn't stop someone from taking their life, it's no longer a crime and is their decision. "But we do offer emotional, non-judgmental support if someone is feeling suicidal."The coroner ruled that Mr Hill had been suffering from depression, with impaired concentration and loss of energy.* Anyone feeling depressed or suicidal can call the Samaritans on 08457 909090.

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