On Jan. 14, 2008, Jonny Benjamin was standing on top of London's Waterloo Bridge, readying himself to jump off. Just 20 years old at the time, he was devastated by his recent diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder—a mental condition characterized by psychosis and mood disturbances. Believing that it would be impossible to lead a normal life, he decided the only way out was death. Fortunately, a passerby approached and talked him down.
This week Benjamin launched a social media campaign, called #FindMike, in the hopes that he can finally thank the man he credits with saving his life.
Since his encounter with the Good Samaritan, Benjamin has received treatment and learned to manage his condition. He's also become a mental health advocate, anti-suicide activist, and ambassador for Rethink Mental Illness, an organization that provides support for people struggling with mental health issues.
Stateside, more people die each year from suicide than from homicide, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
To make treatment more accessible, the Obama administration recently enacted regulations requiring private insurers to provide coverage for mental health conditions that's equitable with the coverage they provide for physical health conditions.
But the social stigmas surrounding even common mental health issues such as depression and anxiety often prevent people from reaching out for help. Benjamin told the BBC that he wants his campaign to get people talking about suicide and inspire others to seek the treatment they need.
"Hopefully it will promote a message of hope and recovery that you can overcome any sort of adversities in life," he said.