Suicide bid foiled by a President

(Clockwise from top left) A presidential bodyguard talking to a man preparing to jump off the Bosphorus Bridge in Istanbul on Friday; bodyguards escorting the dazed man to the President; and Mr Erdogan hearing the sobbing man's woes and making calls
A presidential bodyguard talking to a man (above)preparing to jump off the Bosphorus Bridge in Istanbul on Friday; bodyguards escorting the dazed man to the President; and Mr Erdogan hearing the sobbing man's woes and making calls to get him help.PHOTOS: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY
(Clockwise from top left) A presidential bodyguard talking to a man preparing to jump off the Bosphorus Bridge in Istanbul on Friday; bodyguards escorting the dazed man to the President; and Mr Erdogan hearing the sobbing man's woes and making calls
A presidential bodyguard talking to a man preparing to jump off the Bosphorus Bridge in Istanbul on Friday; bodyguards escorting the dazed man to the President (above); and Mr Erdogan hearing the sobbing man's woes and making calls to get him help.PHOTOS: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY
(Clockwise from top left) A presidential bodyguard talking to a man preparing to jump off the Bosphorus Bridge in Istanbul on Friday; bodyguards escorting the dazed man to the President; and Mr Erdogan hearing the sobbing man's woes and making calls
A presidential bodyguard talking to a man preparing to jump off the Bosphorus Bridge in Istanbul on Friday; bodyguards escorting the dazed man to the President; and Mr Erdogan (above) hearing the sobbing man's woes and making calls to get him help.PHOTOS: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

ISTANBUL • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has used his celebrated rhetorical skills to save a man from jumping off Istanbul's Bosphorus Bridge.

The man was apparently preparing to jump to his death on Friday when Mr Erdogan's motorcade was passing over the bridge linking Europe with Asia after Friday prayers.

As soon as he saw the commotion surrounding the man lurking by the railings, Mr Erdogan ordered his driver to stop and summoned the man to his car, according to local news reports.

News footage showed Mr Erdogan's bodyguards bringing the sobbing man, who appeared to be in his early 30s, to talk to him through the window of his car.

The man, who at first appeared dazed and confused, cooperated after he got a glimpse of the President through the window of his armoured limousine.

He started sobbing at the sight of Mr Erdogan, and kissed his hand in a show of respect.

The man was then seen conversing with the President, who dissuaded him from taking his own life after making some calls to the authorities and ordering them to help, the semi-official Anadolu News Agency reported.

The man had come to Istanbul from the eastern city of Siirt and had severe depression, Turkish news reports said.

His suicide attempt was a response to family problems, according to presidential aides who spoke to the Turkish news media after the incident.

The Dogan news agency said police had been trying for almost two hours to talk the man out of committing suicide after he abandoned his car on the bridge and climbed over the side railing.

The iconic bridge spanning the Bosphorus at a height of 64m is a frequent suicide spot. Dozens of people try to take their lives each year by plunging into the freezing waters that divide Istanbul's European and Asian sides.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, NEW YORK TIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 27, 2015, with the headline 'Suicide bid foiled by a President'. Print Edition | Subscribe