Paige Hunter from Sunderland was praised by Northumbria Police and was even awarded a commendation certificate for her thoughtful efforts.
Trigger warning: This story contains details of suicide and rape that may be distressing to some readers.
Kind words can go a long way for someone who may be fighting their own internal battles. No one could understand it better than Paige Hunter from Sunderland, United Kingdom. When she was just 18-years-old, Hunter saved six lives of people who had hit rock bottom. This was possible thanks to the uplifting and encouraging messages she had left on a bridge, in a bid to help people who were going through troubling times. She was once in the same place and understood the feeling all too well. Her inspiring efforts were praised by Northumbria Police, who even awarded her commendation certificate for her thoughtful efforts.
Paige Hunter has been credited for helping save lives after she left messages of support for anyone facing a mental health crisis.— Channel 5 News (@5_News) July 24, 2018
By attaching notes to a bridge, she wanted to help others after dealing with her own mental health struggles. pic.twitter.com/tknVInXXen
"Paige has shown an incredible understanding of vulnerable people in need of support," Northumbria Police Chief Superintendent Sarah Pitt told the BBC. "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." About two years ago, she started off with a few dozen notes but over time she made it a point to add more as often as she could. One note reads, "Even though things are difficult, your life matters; you're a shining light in a dark world, so just hold on." Another note reminds, "You're not alone." She even left a hotline number for anyone who may need it.
Her initiative was not only praised but it was also decided that "notes of hope" would become a permanent fixture on the Wearmouth Bridge thanks to a unanimous motion passed by the local authorities. "Every single suicide is a tragedy," Councilor Dominic McDonough had stated. "It's a bomb that destroys not just one life but the lives of everyone who is connected with the person who is lost. The most tragic thing is that suicide is preventable and these lives can be saved." Nearly 240 handwritten signs were already up on the bridge and more would be added in collaboration with the community. Hunter was "overwhelmed and thankful" that her work would now be a permanent fixture at the bridge.
for suicide prevention I have replaced all my notes off hope on the bridge, also went on a walk for the #AskMeWhy campaign. amazing turn out full of laughs tears and great conversations. lighting candles for those we have lost and those who are struggling. pic.twitter.com/QUbrdJ8o22— Paige hunter (@Paige_hunter99) September 10, 2019
According to The Sun, Hunter was once on the bridge herself and contemplating jumping off. But two people passing by in a truck stopped by and gently talked her out of it. "They told me I was worth a lot more than what I was going to do," Paige said. "They called the police and stopped with me until they arrived. I am so thankful to them." As a victim of rape, she suffered from PTSD and was depressed. "I got to the point where I couldn't deal with it anymore so I went to the bridge and debated if my life was worth living," she explained. The two strangers convinced her that she was worth more and had saved her life. She did not have a chance to meet them after the incident but hopes to see them again and thank them in person.
One person whose life the notes had saved thanked Hunter anonymously through local media. The grateful mum said, "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 (sic) 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." Hunter has, over the years, managed to save the lives of 28 people.
Watch how this 18 year old girl prevents suicides in England. She saved six lives so far. Paige Hunter is a Shero. WE NEED MORE OF THIS. RETWEET! pic.twitter.com/ggrqkC3sFW via @_SJPeace_ #SuicidePrevention #SuicideAwareness #Humanity— Kathryn Brusco (@KathrynBruscoBk) July 27, 2018
If you are having thoughts about taking your own life or know of anyone who is, please contact The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433)