January 30, 2014 - 12:42 pm
A UK man has been reunited with the stranger who prevented his suicide six years ago.
Jonny Benjamin was 20 years old in 2008 when he decided to take his own life by jumping off the Waterloo Bridge in London.
He was stopped by a man who saw him climb over the railing and asked him to get a cup of coffee and talk.
“He was very calm and said ‘Please don’t do this, I’ve been where you are and you can get better. Let’s have a coffee and we can talk about this,’” Benjamin said. “He reminded me of what people do every day so the normality of it was really inviting.”
The man inspired Benjamin’s recovery. Now a mental health campaigner, Benjamin decided earlier this month to try to track down the man to thank him.
He teamed up with the mental health charity Rethink and encouraged people to tweet with the hashtag #findmike, although he couldn’t remember the actual name of the person who had made such a difference in his life.
Within a couple weeks, the story had spread on social media and received widespread media coverage. Neil Laybourn was alerted to the story by his fiancee, who saw it on Facebook.
The two arranged a reunion for Tuesday. Benjamin said he didn’t immediately recognize Laybourn, but there was something familiar about him. And then they started talking.
“There was a moment that everything just came back to me. I could see him there on that bridge and there he was now, in front of me,” Benjamin said. “It was just overwhelming.”
A documentary about the two is due out this spring.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)