Determining what to say or do to help someone struggling with their mental health can sometimes be daunting, but UK teen Paige Hunter has proven that even the smallest gestures can have powerful results. After facing her own battle with mental health in the past, the 18-year-old decided to place messages of support onto a local bridge.
“I decided to do a place that is exactly not the best place for me, Wearmouth Bridge,” she wrote in a Facebook post. “A lot of bad experiences have happened and i’m not ashamed to say it.”
Paige attached 40 notes to the railings of the bridge, reminding people that it’s ok to not be ok and they are worthy of living.
“It was emotional, as I was placing them people came up to me and told me their story and I just want to say if you see this, no matter how hard life gets you have to keep on pushing and I know it may not be great right now but it will all be ok in the end I promise you that.”
Her messages included:
“Don’t you dare give up on your life. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not ever.”
“The world is much better with you in it.”
“I’m not telling you it is going to be easy. I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it.”
"You matter. You are loved. People would be worse off if you died."
"Pause. Stop. Breathe. There are better options and so many people who love you."
Paige has received widespread praise for her inspiring act of kindness, with the Northumbria Police Chief presenting her with a framed commendation certificate on behalf of the Force to recognise her selfless acts.
“Paige has shown an incredible understanding of vulnerable people in need of support, and this is an innovative way to reach out to those in a dark place,” said Superintendent Sarah Pitt.
“For somebody so young, Paige has shown a real maturity and we thought it would only be right to thank her personally. She should be very proud of herself.
“It is important that we encourage people to speak out and raise awareness of mental health issues and the impact on people's lives.”
It’s believed that in just two weeks, her messages have saved at least six lives.
One anonymous person wrote to community news website Sunderland Now thanking Paige for saving their life.
“Depression is a hard thing to deal with and I felt so so alone that I went to Wearmouth Bridge. All I needed was somebody to tell me it was going to be ok or for someone just to say "when you feel like giving up just remember why you held on for so long" and that was my kids, that’s why I keep fighting every day to see them grow and Paige Hunter if it was not for you and what you did, my boys would have had no one.”
Paige has now launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for British mental health charity MIND.
If you are worried about yourself or someone in your care, the best thing you can do is talk to someone.
You can contact:
Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636
Lifeline 13 11 14
SANE Australia 1800 187 263