By Bill Heaney

Dumbarton poet Stephen Watt was involved in a dramatic incident at the Old Bridge across the River Leven this morning when he talked “a young lad” out of jumping into the swift flowing water.
More than 100 friends on social media posted to congratulate Stephen for saving the young man’s life.
However, Stephen was dismayed that first responders took so long to deal with his emergency call for help – and at the way passing motorists failed to respond to his frantic pleas for assistance and simply drove on past the scene.
Stephen spoke last night on his Facebook page.about what happened on the bridge.
He wrote: “While out jogging at 7.45am this morning, I met a young lad dangling over Dumbarton Bridge. Without going into detail, he was in a lot of pain and wanted to end his life.
“After 10-15 minutes of talking with him, I managed to pull him safely back from the edge and call emergency services while holding him in tightly.”
Dumbarton Bridge where poet Stephen Watt talked a distressed young man down from the parapet.  Picture by Bill Heaney
He added: “I have been feeling entirely upset and head in a spin all day. So sorry for him feeling so low; frustration at not knowing what happens next or able to offer continued support; anger at vehicles that drove past despite me frantically waving my right arm while trying to talk him down, and confusion why the emergency operators felt they had to conduct questions over the phone concerning if he was violent, had covid, did I know the postcode of the bridge, etc. It just feels these questions could have been asked later.” He asked: “Perhaps I’m being unreasonable?
Stephen said he had often spoken publicly about mental health, particularly during the pandemic.
He added: “It’s a clouded pride/sadness but as I’ve stated to friends countless times before, please talk. Do not keep these things to yourself.
“If you are not comfortable discussing with people close to you who love you, then there are professionals who can help.
“There are communities you can be part of which lift you out of loneliness and depression.
“And if you’re lucky enough to not be in that position, just try keep your eyes open for those who are. May be the best gift you give this year.”
Friends who sent Stephen, who is married to Kerriann, included Magi Gibson, who wrote: “Much love to you, Stephen. I’ve never understood these questions from emergency services either. Or, even worse, people who drive or walk past.
May be an image of outdoors
Stephen Watt with his wife Kerriann and their dog.
Julie McNeill added: “Glad you were there for him and heartbroken that you had to be. Sending so much love to you and I echo your words.
“Please, please talk to someone if you’re feeling like you can’t see a way forward. Take care of yourself today.”
Melissa McNee wrote: “Well done Stephen. So glad to hear you were able to support the young man and get him further support by making that call. “
Darren Hatherley said: “Well done unfortunately lots of people just like [those in the cars] would walk by.
Lucky for him you didn’t.”
And Carolyn Bowman, who lives in nearby Kirktonhill,added:”This is why I am so open about my mental health and how I’m feeling. You did an amazing job today. You should be proud of yourself.”
A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “We received report of concern for a person on Bridge Street in Dumbarton around 7.50am on Sunday, 12 December, 2021. Emergency services attended and the man was traced safe and well.”

One comment

  1. Good man, Stephen. The picture is in the summer. The leaves are on the trees and the water is low. It’ll be a lot higher than that now. In the early 1970’s, when they were building the new bridge, I worked in the shipbreaker’s in Faslane. One day there was a hold up and someone got off the bus to pee under the bridge. They found 2 sets of clothes neatly folded on the bank. They found the bodies a few days later, upstream on the Shallow Bank.

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