Brilliant teen saves people from suicide by leaving positive messages on bridge
Suicide is always a difficult topic to talk about, and so - unsurprisingly - it often goes undiscussed. Unfortunately, ignoring the problem does not make it go away; in fact, it only makes it worse.
In order to combat this, various charities and mental health organisations have tried to encourage greater openness and honesty on the subject of suicide and self-harm in recent years. Certain non-profits offer free phone numbers to call for people who are feeling desperate, and others arrange counselling or therapy for at-risk individuals.
Even so, the number of people who take their own lives each year is still staggeringly high, and there's a lot more to be done in order to help those in need.
Thankfully, there are some folks out there who do their best in order to keep others safe.
Paige Hunter, an 18-year-old student from Sunderland, England, recently took it upon herself to post messages of love and support across the Wearmouth Bridge near her home. The notes - which were laminated and tied to the bridge with string - said things such as, "You are not alone" and, "Even though things are difficult, your life matters; you're a shining light in a dark world, so just hold on." They also included the UK number for the Samaritans.
After suffering from severe mental health problems of her own, Hunter put up more than 40 of the messages and has so far helped to save at least six lives with her efforts.
"Since I put the messages up I've had a lot of comments from people. They've said it's been really inspiring," the teenager said. "It's just amazing, the response it has had. I wasn't doing this for an award; it was just something that I wanted to do."
An anonymous note from one of the people she saved read: "Thank you Paige for not only giving me a second chance at life, but saving my family from going through the grief. You helped me seek the help and support I needed, and words can’t describe how grateful I am for such a lovely young selfless woman. If it wasn’t for you I wouldn’t be here anymore."
Sarah Pitt, Northumbria's Police Chief Superintendent, thanked and congratulated Hunter for her "innovative way to reach out to those in a dark place".
"Paige has shown an incredible understanding of vulnerable people in need of support," she added.
"For somebody so young, Paige has shown a real maturity and we thought it would only be right to thank her personally. She should be very proud of herself.
"It is important that we encourage people to speak out and raise awareness of mental health issues and the impact on peoples’ lives."
After achieving a commendation for her effort, Hunter said, "I wasn’t doing this for an award; it was just something that I wanted to do."
Thanks to just one person, six others have been able to continue with their lives and seek help for the problems they are facing - and it didn't even take an incredible amount of effort. This just goes to show that even small actions can have a big impact, and reaching out to those who may need help is always the better option than staying silent.
If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article, contact Your Life Your Voice on 1 800 448 3000, Samaritans on 116 123 or the National Suicide Prevention Hotline on 1 800 273 8255. For recorded information, call Mind on 0300 123 3393.