In 2008, upon being diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, Jonny Benjamin stood on a bridge over the Thames, ready to jump. A stranger's kind words helped him off his ledge. Now, Benjamin is trying to find the man who ultimately saved his life. He shared his story on HuffPost Live.
Benjamin recalled the moment when the stranger, known to him only as Mike, approached him. "I was unwell at the time, I had just been diagnosed with schizophrenia and depression," Benjamin explained to host Ahmed Shihab-Eldin. "I was actually in a hospital and I ran away from the hospital, intending to take my life. I got to the bridge and I stepped onto the edge of the bridge and then suddenly, from out of nowhere, this guy approached me and just started talking to me."
"He was saying things to me like, 'please don't do this mate, please don't do this. Let's just go for a coffee, let's just talk it over.' And at first, I just tried to ignore him. I just wanted to block him out. I just wanted to jump and go through with it. But then he was very persistent. He was very understanding, very, very kind. And he started saying to me, 'you can get through this. You can recover.'"
Benjamin continued, "that was the real turning point, because as I said, I had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and I just thought I would never be able to recover. No one had ever told me I'd be able to recover. And yet here was this total stranger saying to me, 'you can do it mate. You can get better.'"
In the hubbub after Benjamin's decision not to jump, he didn't get an opportunity to thank his savior. "Unfortunately, I never got to thank him, because the police were there waiting for me and they took me away. So I never got to see him again."
Now a mental health campaigner and video blogger, Benjamin created the #FindMike Twitter campaign to find the man who saved his life.
If he does find Mike, Benjamin already knows what he will say.
"I plan to say thank you, ultimately. I want to show him how far I've come, how much I've overcome, and just really extend my gratitude for what he did that day. He didn't need to stop. He didn't need to talk to me. But he was determined not to let me jump and that's just incredible, an amazing act of human kindness."