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RIGHT ON THE EDGE


A veteran Buffalo, N.Y. police officer found the handwritten note on the ice along with a brown wallet and a baseball cap with a pen stuck through it. The note was short and to the point, "Please tell my parents I'm sorry." A 48-year-old man in a thin blue jacket, on a cold, March afternoon, had secured the note to the ice and waded into the 33-degree river.


He had stepped into the river at Niagara Falls! The average depth is 16 feet and it flows at 20 mph. Overwrought by massive gambling debts to casinos on both sides of the falls, the man decided there was no other way out. So he got in with the intent of ending his life.


No one saw him get in, but around 4:30 p.m., someone spotted him from the Canadian side of the falls. Somehow, just before he went over the 170-foot falls, he was able to wedge his legs beneath a rock on the ledge.


Sgt. Patrick Moriarty saw him and began the rescue effort. Helicopter attempts to drop a safety ring failed. Police estimate that there is an average of one suicide at Niagara Falls every month. For every successful attempt, they say, many more have second thoughts. Few get a second chance. This man did. More than two hours after the rescue efforts began, he was pulled up the steep, icy bank in the arms of a firefighter. Over and over he kept saying, "I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I don't know what I would do if someone had lost their life for me."


Few of us will ever be put in such a situation to help a person so desperate. But we might be surprised to know how many people all around us are right on the edge. Not on the edge of Niagara Falls, but they might as well be. Maybe no one has spotted them yet. Maybe no one else knows or understands just how serious their problems are. It's not that they want to go over the edge. They don't. But they don't know if they can keep on going. Then you become aware of them and you can be of some help. Don't withhold that help and don't delay. That's the response of the wise.


(Barry Cameron, Crossroads Church)

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