Cliff rescue sparks fresh demand for help

SUICIDE SPOT ... the cliffs at Marsden. Inset, Jean Costello.

SUICIDE SPOT ... the cliffs at Marsden. Inset, Jean Costello.

A DRAMATIC cliff rescue to save the life of a man threatening to jump has sparked renewed calls for more help for people in turmoil.

Emergency services were called to the cliffs near the Marsden Grotto pub on Thursday evening after concerns were raised for a 44-year-old man sitting on the wrong side of barriers.

As police negotiators spoke to the man, firefighters rigged up specialist rope rescue equipment, and he eventually agreed to be helped back to the right side of the barriers.

He was then taken into police custody under the 1983 mental health act and taken to hospital, where he was assessed and later released.

The emergency services spent three hours at the scene, and they were today praised for their intervention.

However, South Tyneside mum Jean Costello says more needs to be done to make the clifftops safer and to support people before it gets too late.

Ms Costello’s son, Stephen Heslop, took his life on Boxing Day 2007, a day after being turned away from the Bede Wing mental health unit in South Shields.

He stole a taxi and drove to his death after passing a self-harm assessment.

Ms Costello said: “Every time something like this happens, it brings it all back.

“It’s only been a few weeks since a woman went over the cliffs. More needs to be done to try to prevent this from happening because, right now, I don’t think anyone has even considered doing anything.

“I’m not an expert and don’t have all the answers, but this needs to be looked at.

“The services and authorities that are supposed to be there to help people should be looked at.

“Why is it someone who was sitting on a cliff contemplating taking their own life is then allowed to leave the security of a hospital within hours of being assessed?”

She added: “I fought for three years as I knew the wrong assessment had been carried out on Stephen.

“When I was proved right, the authorities said things would change, but as far as I can see, they haven’t.

“More time needs to be taken to assess people who have gone to such lengths as they are crying out for help.

South Shields fire station watch manager Tony Chapman, who was at the clifftops with his crews on Thursday, said: “The fire service were called to assist a man who was sitting on the wrong side of the barriers.

“When we got to the clifftops, we began to set up the specialist rope rescue equipment and, once we were given the go-ahead by the man, two firefighters climbed onto the edge and were then able to walk him to the safety. He was taken by the police to hospital.

“I just want to praise the skill and the professionalism showed by the crews and the emergency services in question.”

The Samaritans, a charity offering people the chance to voice their concerns, can be contacted on 08457 909090.

Twitter: @shieldsgazlisa


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