“I first heard a voice in my head when I was 10 years old. I was so young that I thought this happened to everyone, and they just didn’t talk about it. At first I thought it was an angel, but then it changed. When I was a teenager, it became a devil. I felt tormented. At night, the voice was on a constant loop, and I became paranoid - I thought I was being watched everywhere I went.
When I was 16, I started to experience depression. All I’d ever heard were stories linking mental illness to crime. I thought I’d never recover, and I’d be locked up. I was still growing up, and my family and I had no support, and I felt really alone.
Things built up and up. When I was at university, I had a complete breakdown. At one point, I found myself walking down a dual carriageway at night, consumed by suicidal thoughts. I eventually collapsed and ended up in hospital. They said there was nothing they could do as they didn’t have any beds. Eventually I was admitted and started intensive therapy. Three weeks into my stay, I ran away from the hospital.
I found myself on a bridge, looking down to the water, desperate to take my feet off the edge. A young man came along and spoke to me with such kindness and sincerity. He convinced me not to jump. I climbed back over the railings and was taken back to hospital with a new sense of hope. My attitude to the treatment shifted. I wanted to get my life back, I wanted to return to university
If I’d known much earlier that I could have found free information and advice on the Rethink Mental Illness website, or spoken to someone on the phone, I don’t think I would have found myself on the edge of a bridge about to take my life.
If my family had known about the booklets, factsheets and advice line then they would have got the vital practical support they needed to help my recovery too.”
The #FindMike campaign run by Rethink Mental Illness to reunite Jonny with the man who stopped and spoke to him on the bridge that morning reached 300 million people worldwide, trended in 25 locations, and won awards for creating a positive and engaging route into issues such as schizophrenia and suicide which are often treated as alienating.
Please support our work so that more people like Jonny do not miss out on vital support for their mental health.