3 People Who Talked Down Potential Jumpers

It’s not always a trained negotiator who talks a potential jumper off the ledge. Sometimes it’s a shock jock, a rapper, or a hotel maid.

1. Howard Stern Keeps Caller On the Line, On the Bridge

Howard Stern gets odd phone calls every day, but on the morning of December 7, 1994, he got a real doozy: 29-year-old Emilio Bonilla called Stern’s show while perched on the outer edge of New York’s George Washington Bridge.

Bonilla explained to Stern and co-host Robin Quivers that he was planning on jumping, and Stern decided that he had to do whatever it took to keep the Bonilla on the line until help could arrive. Stern later said, “Once I determined this was a jumper, I said: 'I have to keep this man laughing . . . until the cops get there.'"

Stern cracked that if Bonilla jumped, he’d miss the Stern’s upcoming film. Port Authority police who were listening to the show heard Stern joking with Bonilla and sent officers to the scene to pull the jumper back onto the bridge. Another Stern listener beat them to it, though. When Brooklyn’s Helen Trimble heard the Stern broadcast while crossing the bridge, she got out of her car, ran to Bonilla, and put him in a bearhug to keep him from jumping.

Police officers congratulated Stern on helping avert a potential tragedy, but Stern was self-deprecating about his actions. "Who better to help someone who is psychologically disturbed than Howard Stern, who himself is psychologically disturbed?" he joked.

2. Rapper Makes His Best Video

When a man was threatening to jump off of Atlanta’s 400 Colony Square building last October, he found an unlikely hero: rapper T.I. When T.I. heard about the potential jumper, he called Ryan Cameron of V-103, a radio station that’s headquartered in the building.

According to a Rolling Stone story about the incident, Cameron convinced the rapper to come down to the building to record a video message to the potential jumper. In the video, T.I. told the man, “Nothing is that bad. Nothing in life is worth taking your life. I'm here to help you. Please come down to talk to me.”

When police showed the man the video, he came back in from the ledge and talked to T.I. for several minutes before being taken to the hospital. T.I. played down his role in the incident, saying, “The fact of the matter is God put me in a position, and put in my spirit to be in the position to help, and I can't take any credit for that.”

3. Hotel Maid Saves Disco Queen

Celebrities don’t just save less famous folks; sometimes things work the other way around. In the late 1970s disco star Donna Summer was struggling with depression when she decided to jump from the 11th-floor window of a New York hotel room. According to Summer, she climbed onto the window sill and had one foot over the edge when her hotel maid walked into the room. Summer later said that the sudden appearance of the maid shocked her back into reality and caused her to come back in off the ledge.

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College Board Wants to Erase Thousands of Years From AP World History, and Teachers Aren't Happy
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One would be forgiven for thinking that the Ides of March are upon us, because Julius Caesar is being taken out once again—this time from the Advanced Placement World History exam. The College Board in charge of the AP program is planning to remove the Roman leader, and every other historical figure who lived and died prior to 1450, from high school students’ tests, The New York Times reports.

The nonprofit board recently announced that it would revise the test, beginning in 2019, to make it more manageable for teachers and students alike. The current exam covers over 10,000 years of world history, and according to the board, “no other AP course requires such an expanse of content to be covered over a single school year.”

As an alternative, the board suggested that schools offer two separate year-long courses to cover the entirety of world history, including a Pre-AP World History and Geography class focusing on the Ancient Period (before 600 BCE) up through the Postclassical Period (ending around 1450). However, as Politico points out, a pre-course for which the College Board would charge a fee "isn’t likely to be picked up by cash-strapped public schools," and high school students wouldn't be as inclined to take the pre-AP course since there would be no exam or college credit for it.

Many teachers and historians are pushing back against the proposed changes and asking the board to leave the course untouched. Much of the controversy surrounds the 1450 start date and the fact that no pre-colonial history would be tested.

“They couldn’t have picked a more Eurocentric date,” Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks, who previously helped develop AP History exams and courses, told The New York Times. “If you start in 1450, the first thing you’ll talk about in terms of Africa is the slave trade. The first thing you’ll talk about in terms of the Americas is people dying from smallpox and other things. It’s not a start date that encourages looking at the agency and creativity of people outside Europe.”

A group of teachers who attended an AP open forum in Salt Lake City also protested the changes. One Michigan educator, Tyler George, told Politico, “Students need to understand that there was a beautiful, vast, and engaging world before Europeans ‘discovered’ it.”

The board is now reportedly reconsidering its decision and may push the start date of the course back some several hundred years. Their decision will be announced in July.

[h/t The New York Times]

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North America: East or West Coast?
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