17-year-old’s quick thinking and compassion save a life.

On the morning of March 21, 17-year-old Ayano Iguchi was walking through Niigata City on her way to Niigata Higashi High School to attend class. Part of her on-foot commute takes her over the Agano River, at a point near its mouth where the water runs deep. While Iguchi made her way across the bridge, she noticed a man stopped at the railing, staring down at the water far below.

The man already had one foot up on the lower part of the rail, and as Ayano approached he glanced back at her a few times. Then he suddenly swung his legs over the rail, with nothing any longer between the man and the drop. “If I don’t do something as fast as I can, he’s going to jump, and die,” Iguchi thought. Sprinting over to where the man was, she reached her arms through the railing to hold him in place, while frantically telling him not to throw his life away.

▼ Iguchi, revisiting the bridge where the incident took place

At some point, Iguchi realized that the man wasn’t Japanese, and that he was unable to understand what she was saying. Deducing that he was Brazilian, Iguchi pulled out her smartphone and opened up a translation app, typing in “I know things are difficult, but you mustn’t kill yourself” in Japanese and translating it into Portuguese.

The man came back over behind the railing, and Iguchi called for emergency services, who arrived shortly thereafter. “I felt so relieved that he didn’t fall,” Iguchi says, recalling the incident. “I’m glad I was able to help him, and by the time I realized it, I was crying.”

No public follow-up statement has been made regarding the Brazilian man, and many online commenters have expressed their hope that he receives the care and support he needs to address whatever issues led him so close to taking his own life.

As for Iguchi, she’s been rightly called a hero for her compassion and quick thinking, receiving a certificate of commendation from the Niigata Prefectural Police’s local Kita Precinct. Even if the man was unable to understand the words she had been saying to him in Japanese, the context would most likely have made their overall meaning pretty obvious. Still, the more direct impact of a message delivered in your native language, and seeing the compassion and consideration involved, likely had a significant effect.

Iguchi is currently in her third year of high school, which means she’ll either be going off to higher education or joining the workforce next year, and if what she did on the bridge that morning is any indication of what kind of adult she’s going to grow into, it probably won’t be the last time she leaves a big, positive impression on someone’s life.

If you or someone you know is in Japan and having suicidal thoughts, there are people here to help. Click here for more info.

Source: Nitele News, Broadcasting System of Niigata, YouTube/日テレNEWS
Top image: Pakutaso
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