It’s hard for suicidal people to go unnoticed on the Coronado Bridge. Cars aren’t supposed to stop there, and no pedestrians are allowed. Typically, a motorist calls 911 and officers respond to the scene, hoping to find signs of doubt in an anxious face.

“The people who sit on the ledge contemplating are the ones we can reach out to and help,” explained Laszlo Waczek, a commander with the Coronado Police Department and veteran of encounters with potential jumpers. “The primary thing is to try to build rapport and try get on a personal level and find out some personal information from them as best you can.”

In some cases, Waczek doesn’t have a chance to say a word. Once he arrived to find a man sitting on the bridge railing, dangling his feet over the edge.

“As I soon as I got out of my car, I just stood there for a second, and he jumped in and pushed himself off,” Waczek recalled. “It’s just the way it goes sometimes.”

—RANDY DOTINGA

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