Students recall trying to talk peer down from Richland railing

On the way to Boyd Dining Hall on Monday night, two Ohio University sophomores stopped and invited one more student to dinner.

Sophomores Sean Worley and Connor McMahon approached the OU student, who reportedly jumped from the Oxbow Bridge on Richland Avenue that night, after seeing him sitting on the railing with his eyes closed and palms up.

The 19-year-old student, whose name The Post has decided not to release, remains in the Intensive Care Unit at Grant Medical Center in Columbus after he was transferred by helicopter from O’Bleness Memorial Hospital.

Worley and McMahon spoke to the student for about 25 minutes, saying “only positive things,” before they watched him fall, said Worley, who is studying psychology.

“We have to learn from it,” said McMahon, who is studying exercise physiology. “You have to ask if people are OK. It doesn’t matter if you know them or not. If you can be a friend — you could save a life.”

Among warning signs for suicide are rage, increased alcohol or drug use and dramatic mood changes, according to The Jed Foundation, a website that seeks to promote emotional health and prevent suicide among college and university students.

As Worley and McMahon walked down Richland Avenue, McMahon approached the student, asking if he was OK. The student did not respond, but looked at them with “dead-man eyes” that are only seen in movies, Worley said.

Worley and McMahon tried to connect with the student in hopes of talking him down from the railing. They thought they weren’t reaching through to him until he responded to questions about his home life, McMahon said.

Worley and McMahon said that they didn’t feel comfortable leaving the student alone.

In “crisis” situations, the Jed Foundation suggests not leaving the person.
“He said that he missed home, but he couldn’t remember what it was like,” McMahon said.

Worley and McMahon told the student that his life was valuable, that he should never give up and that he should come down and join them for dinner.

But, in the middle of the conversation, he dropped.

Both students ran to the bottom of the bridge while yelling for someone to call the police, Worley said.

“It was an immediate reaction,” Worley said. “I don’t think we’ve run faster in our lives.”

Upon reaching the bottom, Worley and McMahon yelled at the student to wake him up and tried to help him remain conscious, Worley said.

They also flagged down the police when they arrived and showed them where the student was lying.

McMahon and Worley were taken to the Athens Police Department and spoke to a counselor, who said that nobody else could have better handled the situation.

McMahon and Worley both re-visited the bridge Tuesday to see Post-it notes students left for the student during the hours after the fall, with messages such as, “You are original. You cannot be replaced.”

While at the bridge, they ran into the student’s roommates, who they said thanked them for being his friend in his time of need.

“Stop and ask people, ‘What are you thinking right now?’ ” Worley said. “I can’t stress enough: People need people.”

OU students can reach a counselor 24/7 by calling (740) 593-1616.

OU students can also sit down with a counselor-in-residence from 6-10 p.m. Monday and Wednesday or 5-9 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday, said Alfred Weiner, OU psychologist.

Walk-in hours for OU’s Counseling and Psychological Services are from 9:45 a.m.-3:15 a.m. on the third floor of Campus Care, according to OU’s website.

“If any student or any individual was just upset and distressed, we would want to make them feel like they could sit down and talk with a counselor,” Weiner said.

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