"I wish you would step back from that ledge my friend,This is when someone is Driven to Suicide and someone else who is aware of their plans decides to actively stop them... by talking them down. Distinct from Interrupted Suicide, but sometimes part of one. If Bob has not gotten the opportunity to interrupt Alice's suicide attempt to request that she not kill herself, maybe she's called him on the phone to say goodbye and he's decided to talk her out of doing the deed rather than go along with her goodbyes. Maybe Bob has told Alice that he plans to kill himself several hours later and Alice, instead of immediately calling 911, is going to take a direct approach towards saving Bob's life. To sum it up, someone has decided, for one or more reasons, that they want to take their own life and someone else has decided to actively confront them and say to them, "Please don't kill yourself." There are multiple reasons why someone might decide to take this approach instead of immediately calling for emergency help. The most obvious reason for doing this is because of this trope's similar effect to a Care-Bear Stare. Even if your life is saved by your being forcefully stopped from killing yourself when you're suicidal, it's nothing like having someone telling you to not do it because they actually care whether you live or die. Also, having only one person or a small group of people (especially if they are close to the person they are doing this to) talk down one person who is about to kill themselves is better for building up emotional tension and drama than having a large emergency team do this. Maybe the Talker wants to spare the Suicidal the embarrassment of having the police come over to do it, or else wants the Suicidal to get help, but wants to minimize the chances of having them being taken off to a mental hospital. This is actually one of the best ways to deal with someone known to be suicidal, because the very act of someone they know stopping them might make them reconsider their reasons for wanting to commit suicide in the first place. In such cases, it's likely best to avoid using cliches such as that they "have so much to live for" or they are "selfish or are taking the easy way out." You don't have to go all out and plead with them. Just being there for them to talk to, listening to them, and encouraging them to talk to others can make all the difference. If you or someone you know feels this way, there are numbers you can call. Compare to The Precarious Ledge. See also Fake Assisted Suicide.
You could cut ties with all the lies, that you've been living in,
And if you do not want to see me again, I would understand."
You could cut ties with all the lies, that you've been living in,
And if you do not want to see me again, I would understand."
— Third Eye Blind, "Jumper"
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Anime & Manga
- Happens in Welcome to the N.H.K., when Misaki (with others help) convinces an entire suicide club (which Satou joined) to abort their plans.
- Also happens again near the end, when Satou talks Misaki down from jumping off a cliff. Subverted when he then jumps himself.
- In Katekyo Hitman Reborn! in the early chapters of the manga Yamamoto almost commits suicide. This was due to some bad advice that he broke his arm over, and he thought that his career as a baseball player was over. So he moseyed on over to the edge of the school rooftop and prepared to jump, and he was dead serious about it. With an audience of students trying to cajole him out of it, the only voice he listened to was Tsuna's. He ended up falling due to bad construction of a gate but Tsuna saves him. After that, he and Tsuna become good friends and he joins Tsuna's mafia family.
- Beyond the Boundary starts with Akihito spotting Mirai on the edge of the school roof, seemingly about to jump off, and dashing up to talk her out of it (read: rant about how much he loves glasses). Could be a subversion as it's unknown whether she actually intended to jump off, but in the end she comes away from the ledge...and then stabs Akihito. Luckily for him, he's immortal.
- Descendants of Darkness: At one point, Tsuzuki tries to commit suicide again thanks to Muraki, and Hisoka hugs him and begs him to not do so.
"If you have nothing to live for... then at least live for me!"
- In Natsuneko's one-shot manga Rooftop Miracle, two girls independently try to commit a suicide by jumping off a tall building, but end up talking each other out of it.
- Parodied by Improv Everywhere. Police, friends, and a wife all gather to talk down a man . . . off a four-foot ledge.
- Otto, in one of his occasional self-deprecating jokes, recounted how he was about to jump to his death and a priest was supposed to talk him out of it … but after the priest recognized Otto, he encouraged him instead.
- Fantastic Four: Reed talks down a lonely, suicidal man with terminal cancer by promising that he'll be there to save him from Dying Alone. He keeps his promise.
- Superman pulls this off in the first issue of the "Grounded" storyline.
- The Judge Parker strip once had a short arc about the title character trying to talk a woman out of jumping off a building. She was ashamed of the things she had done as a corporate CEO.
- During one Broom Hilda Sunday strip, Hilda sees a man on a ledge about to jump, listing all the recent horrible things he's had. Hilda tells him of the even worse things in her life and the man decides that his life isn't so bad and decides not to jump. Upon now realizing how bad her own life is, she takes a plunge instead.
- The Child of Love: In chapter 5 Asuka swallows a bunch of sleeping pills. Shinji tries to talk her out of it but he reaches her too late to stop her. Later as she sleeps she dreams with reuniting with her deceased mother, but her daughter Teri visits her dreams and stops Asuka, reminding her that she needs her.
Shinji:"ASUKA! OPEN THE DOOR!!! PLEASE! DON'T DO THIS!!!! PLEASE! I...I..." (his voice trails off:) "...I'm sorry. Really. If you want to talk to someone, I'm here. I know how you feel...OPEN THE DAMN DOOR!"
- Doing It Right This Time: When Shinji finds out that Asuka remembers everything, including his actions when she was comatose Shinji thinks he has already screwed up his chance to make things right and decides to put himself off his misery. Horrified, Asuka talks him out of it.
- Evangelion 303: In chapter 12 Shinji found Asuka when she was about to commit suicide. Firstly he tried to talk her out of it with the usual lines ("Please, don't do this"), but when he realized that she was prepared to resist his pleas, he decided to deceive her into allowing him get close enough to pry her gun away her. It worked.
- In the Star Trek fanfic Memories Born Of Fire, in Spock's nightmare, Christine Chapel attempts this after she realizes that the Vulcan plans on stabbing himself. She doesn't succeed.
- In the Worm fanfic "No Good Deed", hero Assault tried to talk down Taylor when she was on the verge of jumping off a building after accidentally killing several thugs.
Films — Animation
- The image pictured above is from Justice League: Doom, where Superman attempts to talk down a co-worker of his alter ego, Clark Kent, from killing himself. However, it turns out to be a trap as the man is actually Metallo in disguise, who impersonated said co-worker to lure Superman and shoots him with a kryptonite bullet.
Films — Live-Action
- Men in Black. After Edwards (later Agent J) corners the Cephalapoid assassin atop a building, the assassin starts backing up toward the edge. Edwards pleads with him not to, but the Cephalopoid allows himself to fall back and down to his death.
- Clarence's mission in It's a Wonderful Life is a particularly drawn-out, indirect, and yet extremely direct version of this. In a bid to earn his wings, Clarence is supposed to prevent George Bailey from committing suicide. To do this, Clarence does everything he can to show George what a positive force he has been in the lives of his friends and family members, and yet the closest he comes to straight-out pleading with George to not kill himself is when he says, "You see George, you've really had a wonderful life. Don't you see what a mistake it would be to just throw it away?" after George has already wished himself out of existence.
- In Titanic (1997) Jack convinces Rose not to jump off the titular ship into the icy waters below.
- Milk shows the eponymous character, Harvey Milk, talking a wheelchair-using gay teenager out of killing himself.
- Accidental Hero: At the climax John is on a ledge and preparing to jump but Bernie goes out on the ledge and talks him down. Naturally (given the plot of the film) the media think that John talked Bernie down, not the other way around.
- Meet John Doe: A newspaper reporter writes that a homeless man has told her that he will kill himself at midnight New Year's Day to protest society, then she hires a man to play the part. After their arrangement is exposed by a corrupt businessman worried about the effectiveness of their crusade, he decides to actually do it; she talks him down.
- Inverted in Canadian Bacon, with John Candy and Rhea Pearlman openly encouraging folks to jump off Niagara Falls to collect a reward on washed-up bodies.
- The first Lethal Weapon movie does involves this, which turns out to be an inversion. Riggs is spectacularly bad about it. He starts out with the sympathetic angle, smoking a cigarette with the would-be-jumper, then he handcuffs them together, and then Riggs jumps, taking the would-be jumper with him, much to the alarm and dismay of the jumper who cusses him out and calls him crazy after the fact. There was an airbag to break their fall, however, brought in while Riggs was distracting the suicidal person.
- In Yes-Man, the main character sings a man off a ledge with the song "Jumper", quoted above. At one point, he forgets the words, and the suicidal guy fills in for him.
- Happens twice in Dirty Harry films.
- In Pay It Forward, a woman is about to jump from a bridge but is eventually being talked out off it by a man passing by.
- Man on a Ledge has an interesting twist. A disgraced ex-cop threatens to jump from a hotel window, and much of the movie consists of a police negotiator trying to talk him down. Turns out it's really just a cover to keep the police and public distracted while his brother attempts a heist in the building next door in order to prove his innocence. In the end, he spots the bad guy on the street and jumps down anyway, onto the airbag the police had set up.
- In a flashback in Inception, we see the hero trying to talk his wife down from the The Precarious Ledge, where she is about to commit suicide. It doesn't work.
- Camp X-Ray: Ali puts a shiv to his throat in the conclusion, despairing over the fact that he'll never be free, and this is his only way out. Cole tries to talk him out of it, but eventually allows him to kill himself if he chooses. He doesn't.
- The Ledge: The ledge of the title involves a man standing there threatening to jump. A cop is there trying to talk him out of it, and during their conversation it's revealed how he got to that point.
- In Crocodile DundeeII, Mickey sees a would-be jumper on a ledge so he goes up to the floor, goes out on the opposite side of the building and acts like he's just taking a stroll when he comes around the corner the jumper is on. As the jumper is near the edge, Mickey asks him if he could please step aside and let him pass. When the man tells him the he's going to jump, Mick takes a look down, like he never heard of the concept, and remarks, "You'd kill yourself, mate." Eventually, Mickey talks him down.
- In Best in Show, one of the characters has this job. However, "they all jump", and he gives graphic detail over one jumper's fall involving a gargoyle.
- Happens in Moby-Dick- Ishmael begs Queequeg not to kill himself after Queequeg sees what he believes is his impending death in the bones he casts. (it was probably really his death with the rest of the crew that he saw, if anything.) The movie has Ishmael going "Queequeg, don't. Queequeg, listen to me. Queequeg, I absolutely forbid you to die."
- So many stories in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series involve this.
- Played for Laughs in Discworld novel The Truth. William encounters a man threatening to jump off of a building and climbs up to talk him down (while bystanders are telling him he should've chosen a different building to jump from!) In the end,William find out the man frequently threatens to jump until the Watch show up and offer him money. And he's a steeplejack, making his claim that climbing up is the hard part a little questionable. And he ends up saving William, who falls from the building.
- As soon as the title character in Eden Green awakens to find she's been infected with an immortal alien needle symbiote, she puts a shotgun in her mouth. When her best friend is unable to talk her out of it, the psychopath who infected her tries to point out that the symbiote will keep her alive. In the end, all that saves her is the fact that the gun is empty.
- Aravis, the heroine of The Horse and His Boy, nearly takes her own life rather than be forced into a marriage as a teenager with a man several times her own age. Her horse, Hwin, who turns out to be a Narnian talking horse, tries to talk her out of suicide. It works partially because Hwin convinces her that "If you live, your fortunes may yet improve, but if you die, then they can't", partially because partnering with a talking horse gives her a means of escape, and partially because holy crap, a talking horse?! helps snap her out of it.
- In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, although he doesn't act on it, when Snape and Dumbledore talk after Lily Potter's death, Snape makes the much forgotten remark "I wish... I wish I were dead...". Dumbledore quickly shoots this down by saying in a harsh tone "And what use would that be to anyone?"
- Lie to Me: In "The Royal We" Cal talks down a girl about to jump off a catwalk.
- Often turns up in CSI. It's usually the murderer of the week trying to take an easy way out, however one occasion combined this with an odd mix of Suicide by Cop where a suicidal young man, whose failed suicide had led to his girlfriend doing the same, tried to jump off a ledge and tried to get said girlfriend's neighbour (who assumed that he murdered her) to kill him when the cops showed up to talk him down. ( The neighbour's talked down, but the guy jumps...into a crash pad the fire department had time to set up while he was distracted).
- On an episode of The Pretender, Jarod does this while working as a TV news cameraman.
- Mendol Ikemen: The girls talk a jumper out of killing herself, by saying she's "an angel on Earth."
- In the Torchwood episode "A Day in the Death", an undead Owen Harper manages to talk down a suicidal woman from the ledge, mostly by telling her about his own experience with death.
- Subverted in Sledge Hammer!, when the eponymous cop deliberately shoots at the feet of the would-be suicide to drive him off.
- In an SNL Digital Short we see a man with a bullhorn trying to talk down a "jumper" who - it is revealed - is only a few feet away from him at ground level.
- The Benny Hill Show: Benny is a passing minister who tries to talk down a jumper, until he finds out that the jumper is a fan of an opposing football team. "Well, flaming well jump then!"
- In Kyle XY, in the episode Lockdown, Kyle talks Jessi out of jumping.
- In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, in the episode "I Only Have Eyes For You," Angel talks Buffy out of killing herself, but Angel and Buffy are both not themselves at the time - they are possessed by the ghosts of other people. What makes it weirder is that it happens during the time that Angel is evil.
- In the episode "Earshot," Buffy talks Jonathan Levinson out of killing himself, although she thinks that she is convincing him not to commit mass murder instead.
- Buffy also convinces Angel not to kill himself when he is attacked by the First Evil.
- Buffy herself has to be talked out of suicide when she thinks after being resurrected she's in hell. It takes Dawn being in danger to spur her out of it, and the whole season to come to terms with just how much her life at this point absolutely sucks it.
- The Mentalist has Jane taking an interesting approach to talking a woman out of jumping from a bridge. He tells her that if she's gonna jump, "make sure to dive, head first" because from that height, she would only suffer "massive internal injuries." She responds by clutching onto a support beam in horror.
- The title character from Hooperman does this with props (specifically a watermelon) in the pilot episode. While he talks the would-be jumper out of jumping, he brings up the finality of death and demonstrates by throwing the watermelon to the street below. In a later episode, he tries this again. However, he decides against taking the watermelon out of the bag when the jumper says he can't stand the sight of them.
- A regular occurrence on Flashpoint; almost half of SRU Team One's hot calls have involved this, though they don't always succeed.
- A semi-regular occurrence on Barney Miller, where the squad will get a call about a jumper and then return with the would-be suicide. In one episode Fish goes out to talk someone down while a woman is having a baby at the precinct. After she delivers Fish shows up and is told about the delivery. "You win some, you lose some." He was unsuccessful.
- In an episode of The Bob Newhart Show had Bob's character, a psychiatrist, have to do this while in a Zorro costume (for a costume party). He even gets out on the ledge, and after succeeding, strikes a Zorro pose alone on the ledge.
- Subverted on the 2010 Upstairs Downstairs revival. Harry attempts to talk Persie out of shooting herself and to wrest the gun away from her, but Beryl is shot in the ensuing Gun Struggle...and this spurs Persie to dive over a railing to her death.
- The NCIS episode "Leap of Faith" starts with Gibbs trying to talk down a suicidal naval officer. It starts to work—and then someone shoots the officer.
- In the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Hard Time," Bashir has to keep O'Brien, who's been traumatized by spending twenty years in a mental prison (in less than an hour to the outside world), from phasering himself.
- The midseason finale of Rizzoli & Isles has Jane doing this with a murder suspect, having just discovered proof that he's being framed for the murder of his mistress. Of course, not two seconds after he's been talked out of jumping off a bridge, he slips and falls off anyway, resulting in a Cliffhanger.
- Arnold Horshack in Welcome Back, Kotter talks a new girl out of jumping out the window when she has trouble fitting in. Said girl would become his love interest and eventual wife.
- In Healer, heroine Chae Young Shin does this in the second episode, to a woman who is being abused. Young Shin admits she knows exactly what the woman is going through, because she's been there too...when she was seven years old.
- Person of Interest. In the Batman Cold Open of "Prophets", the POI is going to jump off a building after being caught in embezzlement and murder. Reese points out that his insurance won't pay his family if he commits suicide, but will if a cop kills him. So the POI tries to shoot Reese, who kneecaps him as usual.
POI: You said you were gonna kill me!Reese: I Lied.
- In "If-Then-Else" Shaw has to do this to a guy in a bomb vest in a dramatic rather than comedic take. As it is made more difficult by the fact that she is a sociopath, she tries to call another team member for help. The question of which team member is best able to help her is a question that The Machine is trying to answer in its "Groundhog Day" Loop simulation. In the failed versions, Shaw shoots the guy and ends up arrested.
- Played for even more drama when Shaw is the one being talked down, as a result of the fact that she is questioning reality based on her experiences as a prisoner of Samaritan in which she experienced thousands of simulations. When Shaw puts a gun to her own head, Root does the same.
- Inverted in a Tosh0 skit, where Tosh's idea of talking someone off a ledge was yelling "Jump!" and tripping them.
- In one episode of M*A*S*H, Colonel Potter encounters a soldier that had extensive facial injuries and wanted to kill himself because he feared that all of his loved ones would reject him. Potter does his best to convince the soldier otherwise, but to little avail. Eventually, he catches the soldier trying to use some of the camp's anesthetic gas to kill himself, and Potter feigns outrage before trying to "assist" the soldier with the deed. The soldier panics and tries to flee, proving Potter's point that he had not truly lost his will to live.
- The speaker of the song "Jumper" by Third Eye Blind is attempting to talk someone else down from a ledge.
- The Nickelback song "Lullaby" is all about this, except that the speaker isn't there in person. He's playing the song over the radio, hoping that the suicidal will hear it wherever she is and know that she isn't alone.
- "Moments" by Emerson Drive. The narrator is planning to jump off a bridge when he hands the money in his pocket to a homeless man. The homeless man then sings the chorus to him ("I've had my moments / Days in the sun / Moments I was second to none / Moments when I knew I did what I thought I couldn't do…") which inspires the narrator to reconsider his actions and also say that he has had his moments before walking away. As he does, he imagines that the homeless man will share stopping a suicide as one of his "moments".
- Subverted in Simon & Garfunkel's "Save the Life of My Child". A boy appears on a ledge and everybody, taking him for a suicide, goes into a panic. No one really talks to him. At the end he flies away, indicating the whole thing has been a (divine?) test.
- The Script's song "Talk You Down" is actually about a relationship falling apart, but uses this imagery to try and convince someone not to completely destroy it.
- The Fray's song "How to Save a Life" is about someone attempting and failing to talk down a suicidal boy. The lead singer was inspired to write it by his time spent working at a camp for troubled teenagers, and a boy he met there, whom he said "no one could write a manual on how to save him."
- The Vocaloid song My R is about a suicidal girl that keeps running into other girls when she goes to jump. She's shown making the first two girls realize that their issues aren't worth dying over and convincing the third one to wait a bit longer. Subverted at the end of the song, when it's revealed that there never were any other girls. The song is actually about the girl going over her own motives for suicide and talking herself down. By the end, she gives up on this and jumps.
- "A Better Place, A Better Time" by Streetlight Manifesto is about this.
- Played for laughs in Avenue Q. While the main characters are out and about in the city, an offstage voice cries out:
Jumper: I'm gonna jump!
Cast: Don't do it!
- Defender of RON, a game in the Reality On The Norm series, has an optional mission where the protagonist has to try and talk The Grim Reaper out of a suicide attempt.
- In Sam & Max Beyond Time And Space episode one, the title pair have to talk Jimmy Two-Teeth out of jumping to his death. Unfortunately, Sam's attempts to talk him out of jumping are countered by Max's encouragement to jump. They finally go to get the only one who can talk him out of it: his wife.
- In Mass Effect, if you have the settler background, you get a mission to help out another victim of the slaver raid that Shepard survived, and who is now standing on the docks, threatening to kill herself. Shepard can talk to her to get her to calm down, and get her to take the sedative, so she can get the care she needs.
- In Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, CJ comes across a rapper threatening to jump. He makes a token effort to get him down, but in the end steals a straw truck so he lands semi-safely.
- In Hate Plus, during the harem route, you have to help *Hyun-ae, an AI, stop another AI, *Mute, from essentially committing suicide by wiping everything but her core data, done by selecting pre-set arguments appealing to *Mute's coded directives of duty and honor.
- In Deus Ex: Human Revolution you must do this with Isaias Sandoval, who is on the verge of suicide after his role in The Conspiracy has been exposed.
- If he isn't exposed, he'll try to shoot the player character instead.
- Doing this in The Crooked Man to a possessed David will result in the suicide being pulled through.
- Two examples in Fire Emblem: Blazing Sword:
- After losing her entire unit, Fiora the pegasus knight is prepared to lead a suicidal charge against the Black Fang. Florina must talk to her to recruit her over to your side, telling her not to throw away her life.
- Harken, a knight of Pherae, infiltrates the Black Fang with the hopes of going against them, hoping he dies in the process as penance for failing to protect Lord Elbert. Hector, Oswin or anyone from House Pherae can talk him out of this and get him to join their side.
- In Crusader Kings, there is one event where a person is about to commit suicide and you can attempt to stop him. If you attempt to play this trope strait and talk him down, he jumps and ends his life. If you want to save his life, you have to subvert this trope and just pull him down.
- Max, the main character in Life Is Strange, tries to talk down Kate from jumping off the dorm building at the end of episode 2. Her success is dependent on the player making the right choices, and, in this case, there are no do-overs.
- In Under Tale: Undyne reveals that she first met Dr. Alphys while Alphys was staring into the abyss (a waterfall with no visible bottom) and remarks that she looked, "contemplative." Undyne asked Alphys what she thought of the abyss...which led to Alphys spending hours explaining every single theory she had to a now captivated Undyne. It's not clear if Undyne knew what she was doing, but the way she pauses before saying certain words implies that she might have.
- Brian does this in Think Before You Think, here.
- In Bridges, Sarah walks into an awkward situation.
- In Sexy Losers, one of the main characters gives a good reason not to commit suicide.
- In Freefall, talking down a suicidal robot is a lengthy process, but ultimately successful.
- Played for humor in Arthur, King of Time and Space. In the superhero arc, Kingman comes across a jumper and gives an somewhat overly-peppy and sugary speech. The man agrees not to jump if Kingman would stop talking.
- ASDF Movie 7 has a crowd of people attempting to talk down a jumper. Unfortunately for them, the "Everybody Do The Flop" guy shows up, and everybody (including the Jumper) does the Flop.
- Parodied to the extreme in South Park. When Obama wins the 2008 American presidential election, Ike Broflovski, a McCain supporter, is so devastated that he decides to jump out of the first-story window. The four leads, including his older brother Kyle, come outside to talk him out of jumping out the window. He does, and Kyle then takes him to a hospital. The part about Ike being suicidal turns out to be a subversion when viewers see him go into the hospital morgue and declare all of the politicians involved in the jewel heist to be dead, revealing that he was privy to this plan and that he jumped out of the window specifically to put himself in the hospital and enable himself to do this.
- Parodied in an episode of Beavis And Butthead: the title characters encounter a banker who attempts suicide when his embezzlement are exposed by the police. When they argue in favor of suicide, the man misinterprets their argument as assurance that he is not alone and other people care about him. He then embraces the duo, much to their displeasure.
Butthead: Life sucks, and then you die.
- Very darkly subverted in the second Christmas special, which parodies It's a Wonderful Life. Charlie is given the mission to get Butthead to kill himself after the duo's antics over the past year has caused so much damage that it causes everyone in town to desperately pray to the Powers That Be to make them go away. It fails, as Butthead is extremely unimpressed with the idyllic Highland that would apparently exist if he had never been born.
- Moe Syzlak on The Simpsons has been used to parody this trope several times, as his frequent suicide attempts usually fail on their own volition, and when the townsfolk do attempt to talk him down, they don't exactly do it in the most understanding way.
- An unusual spin on this trope shows up in Code Lyoko. Aelita shuts off the supercomputer (previously shown to have devastating and possibly lethal consequences for her). Jeremie finds her and turns the computer back on. When she comes to, he scolds her about throwing her life away. Unlike most examples, Aelita has a legitimate reason for suicide; her death would also remove the threat of the computer virus XANA who has nearly killed her friends multiple times.