I was really touched by this story in the Mail Online yesterday.
It’s about a bus driver, Damone Hudson from Dayton, Ohio, who was driving over a bridge and saw a woman on the wrong side of the railings. He stopped his bus and got out to talk to her.
He stayed with her until the police arrived to take her to safety and, hopefully, to get some appropriate help.
In fact, LivingWorks (the Canadian organisation who designed safeTALK) have done a lot of work with transport staff in Canada and the USA and I’ve no doubt there are similar initiatives in other countries, too.
But it’s not just transport staff who can do this – any one of us might come across the opportunity to help someone else in distress. That’s why safeTALK is designed for anyone who wants to be more suicide aware and who wants to feel able to reach out if they think someone is at risk. It’s about making our community suicide safer and letting people know it’s OK to talk about those difficult thoughts and feelings.
Grassroots has also developed a phone app – Stay Alive – which offers help and support to people with thoughts of suicide and also to people concerned about someone else – it’s free to download on Google Play and the iTunes App Store.
The Mail Online article doesn’t say whether Hudson had any specific training – or whether he was simply one human being connecting with another.
This puts me in mind of the Channel 4 documentary ‘Stranger on the Bridge’ which was broadcast back in 2015. If you don’t want to watch the whole thing, there’s an 18 minute interview on YouTube where Jonny Benjamin MBE and Neil Laybourn (the stranger referred to in the title) talk about what led Jonny to the point of contemplating suicide, what happened the day they met – and what it was like when they met again six years later. Or you can read about it here instead.
Jonny has become an ambassador for talking more openly about thoughts, feelings and mental illness and he works with the Heads Together campaign which I’ve written about before.
Both of these examples demonstrate very clearly to me how a simple act of kindness, from one person to another, can have a really deep impact and, perhaps, save a life.