A random act of kindness. A bit of time. A listening ear.
That is all it takes to save a life.
20 year old Johnny Benjamin, who had recently been diagnosed with Schizoaffective disorder was about to jump off the Waterloo Bridge on a cold morning in January 2008. A complete stranger sat beside him and said to him, ”It’ll get better, mate. You will get better.” That was enough to break down the wall around Johnny and help him see the light beyond. He did not jump. “When he came along it burst the bubble of that world I was in. I felt faith, like I could talk to him.”
6 years later Johnny started a worldwide social-media hunt for this man who he could hardly remember any details of. He just wanted to thank him. After much disappointment he found him. This time, greeting him with a big hug.
Neil Laybourn helped Benjamin walk away from the edge of a bridge. Now they work together to raise awareness about suicide and its prevention.
Another man in his thirties, who successfully ended his life by jumping off the Golden Gate bridge wrote in his suicide note: “I’m going to walk to the bridge. If one person smiles at me on the way, I will not jump.’ ”
A few minutes. A bit of compassion. Sometimes just a smile.
We all can manage that. Can’t we?
“The Neglected Suicide Epidemic” by Emily Greenhouse for The New Yorker is a brilliant article on the subject.