Hennepin County Government Center suicide threat averted

Categories: Minneapolis

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The Hennepin County Government Center, right, was the scene of a potential suicide alert on Tuesday.
The soaring atrium in the Hennepin County Government Center has been the site of three suicides in the past. A fourth was averted yesterday when a 44-year-old man was talked out of jumping to his death from a perch on the 23rd floor.

We don't know his name yet, and don't know why he crawled out onto a planter just after noon and dangled his legs over the precipice. County authorities are tight-lipped about the case. But after about six hours, negotiators persuaded him to come off the ledge and he was taken into custody.

Hennepin County sheriff's deputies had blocked off a portion of the plaza below the man's position as a precaution. They locked down the building, and blocked the elevators, for more than an hour. County spokeswoman Carolyn Marinan also told us this morning that workers were kept in their offices on the upper floors.

Workers and visitors were allowed back into the building starting at about 1:30 p.m., even as the negotiations were continuing high above them on the 23rd floor. Deputies politely but firmly insisted that everyone move along and not gawk.

But there was nothing to see, at least from the ground. The man and the authorities with him weren't visible from the plaza. Nor could they be seen from the outside through the building's dark windows, even though pedestrians could be seen craning their necks skyward. But Marinan said the situation was clearly visible from the upper floors.

The high, open walkways and balconies of the county government center have been a security worry ever since it opened in 1977. Three people jumped to their death there in the 1970s. There was another attempt in 1997. Clear plastic barriers were built in the early 1980s to prevent similar attempts.

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A 44-year-old man was talked off his perch on the 23rd floor of the atrium in the Hennepin County Government Building, at right.
Here's the location of the Hennepin County Government Center on 6th Street:


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