There is a bizarre tragedy in Honolulu where a man sought to keep a 19-year-old man from committing suicide at the University of Hawaii. The man on the ledge of the campus housing ended up taking both himself and the older man, aged 24, down with him. As fate would have it, the older man died and the suicidal man survived with serious injuries.
Both men fell from 14th floor. It is remarkable that the suicidal man survived.
If the suicidal man survives, there is a question of possible liability to the family of the deceased. There is no question of that the individual was distraught and possibly mentally disturbed. However, if he were found to be mentally capable, his actions were obviously reckless and likely criminal. As a result of those actions, the victim sought to rescue him. As first year law students learn in torts, in Wagner v. International Railway, 232 N.Y. 176 (1926), Justice Cardozo declared “Danger invites rescue. The cry of distress is the summons to relief […] The emergency begets the man. The wrongdoer may not have foreseen the coming of a deliverer. He is accountable as if he had.”
While a lawsuit is unlikely, such cases raise difficult issues of liability.