At ten o'clock in the morning of 14 January 2008, Jonny Benjamin was standing on the wrong side of the railings on London’s Waterloo Bridge. Distressed, hopeless, and moments from jumping into the Thames, he was approached by a man who offered him a cup of coffee. Jonny never knew the stranger’s name but six years later he was reunited with the man who saved his life.
Neil Laybourn came forward after Jonny's Find 'Mike' campaign went viral. Launched with the support of the charity Rethink Mental Illness, the appeal was shared by celebrities from Boy George to UK Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg. The hashtag #FindMike trended around the world and the story was picked up by television, radio and print media.
Find 'Mike' brought mental illness and suicide prevention to a global audience, and reminds us that helping someone in crisis isn’t the preserve of the specially trained or unusually gifted. The importance of human connections is recognised by The International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) and the World Health Organization. The theme of World Suicide Prevention Day 2014 is 'One World Connected': "Reaching out to those who have become disconnected from others and offering them support and friendship may be a life-saving act." (IASP website, www.iasp.info/wspd.)
Or, as Fran puts it: "It doesn't have to be anything big or dramatic. It just needs to allow the tiniest of shifts towards life."
A fascinating and deeply moving documentary film of Jonny's story was released on 29 May 2014: www.youtube.com/user/findmikefilm. You can download a wonderful full colour document [PDF format] containing background information, interviews and information: www.rethink.org/media/1063928/FindingMike_Notes.pdf.