The stranger on the Bridge – every conversation matters!

“Everyone needs a Mike”

Monday’s Channel 4 documentary “The stranger on the Bridge” following  the poignant Finding Mike campaign was so stunningly put together that I had to write about it…

The programme followed the amazing Jonny Benjamin’s #FindMike campaign which sought to find the passerby who talked him out of taking his life on Waterloo Bridge six years ago. Jonny was only 20 years old at the time and had been diagnosed with schizo-affective disorder which has features of schizophrenia and a mood disorder – either bipolar disorder or depression.

It was great to give mental illness significant profile and explanation in the programme. For years and years the press, television programmes and films has for the majority depicted schizophrenia as a bit of a “joke” and brought about the notion of someone with schizophrenia having several personalities. Perhaps this stemmed from voice hearing, a symptom of schizophrenia, however the illness is not a multiple personality disorder.

Anyway back to #FindMike itself – the campaign went viral last year and amazingly people were talking about it all over the world. Over 300 million people ended up following the story! Incredible!

One thing that really stood out from this documentary was the conversation between Jonny and the lady whose brother had taken his own life on their 27th birthday.

It really highlighted the number of unanswered questions that can be felt by loved ones when someone has taken their life.

Poignantly she asked Jonny why he had not spoken about his suicidal feelings with family and friends.

Jonny articulated that he didn’t want to upset anyone by sharing his feelings and felt as though he would be letting people down. This tugged on the heart-strings … On so many occasions it seems the person in such distress really does not want to cause others upset and often feel a great sense of shame.

Overall, it was an amazing programme and I have so much admiration for both Jonny and Neil (Mike) for being the angel that’s conversation with Jonny not only saved his life but also ended up raising increased awareness around both mental illness and suicidal feelings…and maybe giving others the confidence that they too could be a “Mike”

The documentary is on Channel 4’s 4OD! Catch it if you can..the link is here

Mental Health Awareness Week begins tomorrow (11 – 17 May) which aims to raise awareness of mental health and wellbeing issues…so what better time to begin a blog about mental health!

x Rebecca x


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