Not Always a Happy Ending
Yesterday the media was full of the social media inspired reunion of two young men Neil Layborn and John Benjamin. They had first met six years ago on Waterloo Bridge. Then schizophrenic Benjamin with voices screaming in his head was about to jump. Personal trainer Layborn passing by “saw why he was there. No one else stopped and hardly any one else looked. It was obvious he needed help”.
For half an hour the good Samaritan talked to the stranger and then the emergency services arrived and the man was saved. Today working as a charity campaigner although not cured, through exercise, therapy and focusing he is on top his problems. The two hugged for the cameras and promised to start a friendship. Someone buy the film rights!
But it doesn’t always end so well. Twenty years ago I did a story. This involved a young man, a plumber receiving the Royal Lifesaving Society’s highest honour. He had been walking along Chelsea Embankment by the Albert Bridge. He saw a young lady climb over the barrier and dive in. Our hero only hesitated to take off his shoes and jacket and dived in. Within a few strokes he was by her side.
But she didn’t want to be saved. She wanted to die,as it turned out to rejoin her dead father. She fought and a ludicrous Crocodile Dundee scene was enacted. Eventually our hero dragged her to Cadogan Pier where onlookers pulled her in. As she got on the pier she savagely kicked our man who exhausted nearly drowned.
The emergency services were quite clear. He should not make contact with the woman. She would think there was something preordained and stalk him. He was a modest man and didn’t think an awful lot about it until two weeks later he got the message she had tried again, this time using the Victoria Line at Pimlico. This time there was no passing stranger and she completed the journey that she felt she had to take. Every day 16 commit suicide. About one a year try from Putney Bridge.