Man reunites with hero in London

Man reunited with stranger who stopped him from attempting suicide

Author: Jennifer Waugh, The Morning Show anchor, investigative reporter, jwaugh@wjxt.com
Crystal Moyer, Morning assignment desk, backup traffic reporter, cmoyer@wjxt.com
Published On: Feb 04 2014 07:15:59 AM EST
Suicide hero
LONDON, England -

A remarkable story about a man who planned to end his life: He was leaning over a bridge when a complete stranger pulled him back.

That man has now made it his mission to find this stranger to thank him for saving his life.

It was the 14th of January, 2008, that Jonny Benjamin stood on London's Waterloo Bridge contemplating suicide.

The 20-year-old had been just diagnosed with Schizophrenia and couldn't stop the voices in his head.

"I was approached by a total stranger that stopped to talk to me and offered to buy me a coffee,” said Jonny.

The young man on his way to work, stopped, and talked Jonny down from the bridge.

But as Jonny recovered, he never forgot the man who saved his life. So he made a plea to find him.

Not knowing the name of the Good Samaritan, Jonny called his campaign "finding mike.” He made a video appeal for help.

"Perhaps you remember a conversation with a friend or a colleague at the time… or maybe you were even on the bridge and you remember some detail about him. Whatever it is, please do get in touch and let us know,” said Jonny.

He also took to TV and social media.

The movement went viral with millions of people sharing his story around the world.
The plea paid off when a woman saw the story on Facebook and knew it was her fiancé, Neil Laybourn.

It was a pub in London where Jonny finally found the man who changed his life forever.

"When he walked through the door, I was just a bag of nerves,” said Jonny.

"I didn't instantly recognize him, but there was something there... there was something that was familiar about him as he approached me,” said Jonny. "Then it was when we sat down and began talking, there was a moment when everything just came back to me and I could see him there on that bridge. And there he was now in front of me and it was just overwhelming.

Now Jonny's mission is to pay it forward.

He works with an organization to help raise awareness about mental illness. And he hopes to help others who may be feeling as he was on that cold January day.

"I want to show people that it is possible to overcome those suicidal thoughts and feelings. That it's very human, very common to go through that. And there's support out there,” said Jonny.

All in thanks to Neil.

"He didn't need to do that. He could have just kept on walking by. But his actions, they changed my life and I'm so grateful,” said Jonny.

From stranger… to lifesaver… to friend.

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts or actions, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.