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Campaign: Man whose hunt for suicide saviour went global speaks of ‘horrendous’ mental health cuts

PUBLISHED: 12:03 08 April 2016 | UPDATED: 12:09 08 April 2016

Mental health campaigner Jonny Benjamin

Mental health campaigner Jonny Benjamin

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A mental health campaigner whose suicide attempt was halted when a stranger talked him from the edge of Waterloo Bridge has given a Recorder campaign his backing.

Jonny Benjamin gained worldwide attention six years after the attempt in 2008 when he launched a social media campaign to find the man he credits with saving his life and setting him on to the path of recovery.

The search, which saw the hashtag #FindMike trend across the globe, was the subject of a Channel 4 documentary Stranger on the Bridge.

Jonny, 29, praised the Recorder’s Mind Your Mental Health campaign, which will run throughout 2016 in conjunction with charity, Havering Mind.

During an extensive interview he described the state of mental health services as a national problem that is failing those in need.

He said: “I think it’s horrendous what’s happening in terms of mental health cuts. I speak to staff in services and they’re frustrated as well.

“The waiting lists are just appalling.

“Can you imagine if you broke your leg and they said you can have physio in a year’s time. That just wouldn’t happen.”

The government has said it wants to reduce suicides by 10 per cent before 2020, a target Jonny described as “just not good enough”.

He said: “There are 6,000 suicides each year. With that reduction there would still be 5,400.

“There are five road deaths each day but 17 suicides. Why are we not putting more funds into prevention?”

In January Jonny launched his Think Well campaign, which has seen him go into schools to speak to pupils about mental health.

When explaining the importance of this work he said that 70pc of mental health problems begin in adolescence.

Nationally, as well as in Havering, more men than women take their own lives. This is another area where Jonny believes urgent action is needed.

He said: “This macho idea that men are not allowed to show weakness or vulnerability is literally killing men.

“We have seen the suicide rate among women halve in 30 years but the suicide rate in men has basically stayed the same. It’s just not being addressed.”

See this week’s Recorder for the full interview.


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