This is an update to an earlier story we brought you on Doog News called “Finding Mike – Mental Health Patient Looking For Stranger Who Saved His Life“. It was the story of Jonny Benjamin, who suffers from schizoaffective disorder and was on the brink of committing suicide until a kind stranger talked him from the ledge of a bridge in London. The stranger left before he could get his name, and 6 years later, Jonny, now an advocate for Mental Health issues, wanted to thank the man he nicknamed “Mike”.
This week, after years of recovery and curiosity about the young man who had saved his life and then disappeared into the crowd, Benjamin finally reunited with him. The man was Neil Laybourn, a 31-year-old personal trainer, who stopped that day and offered to buy Jonny a coffee. That simple gesture was enough to make Jonny rethink his decision to end his life.
“I feel like I’ve won the lottery – I’m totally elated. It means the world to me to finally have the opportunity to say thank you,” Benjamin, 26, said through a statement released by the U.K. organization Rethink Mental Illness, which helped him track down Laybourn. Together they started a Twitter, Facebook, and social media campaign to find the stranger, and called it “Finding Mike”.
The campaign soon went viral attracting the support of celebrities from Boy George to U.K. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg – and the attention of Laybourn’s fiancée, who spotted the #FindMike update on Facebook. She instantly recognized the story, and told Laybourn, who reached out right away.
“I was so pleased to see how well Jonny was doing, I had thought about him over the years and had always hoped he was OK,” Laybourn, 31, said through a Rethink Mental Illness statement. “When we met, it was clear how much that encounter on the bridge meant to Jonny – he told me it was a pivotal moment in his life, which was great to hear. I didn’t feel it was that big a deal, I did what anyone would do. I wasn’t trying to fix his problems that day, I just listened.”
The pair reunited this week giving their first joint TV interview on the British morning TV program “Daybreak.” Benjamin thanked Laybourn on the broadcast, telling him, “You didn’t need to stop that day, and you did. And it was the kindness as well, the compassion. He was determined not to let me jump, and that was what pulled me back over the edge.”
“That day on the bridge my life hit rock bottom, but meeting Neil, I felt so happy, it couldn’t be more of a contrast,” says Benjamin. “It’s as though I’ve come full circle and that chapter of my life has now closed. He’s such a warm, genuine person – everyone should have a friend like Neil.” Finding Mike is now Found Mike.
Check out more of Jonny Benjamin’s videos at his YouTube channel.
And to get a better understanding and amazing insight of schizoeffective disorder and schizophrenia, watch this informative video.