A woman who contemplated taking her own life by jumping off a bridge three years ago now returns regularly to post notes with life-affirming words in hopes they will save other people’s lives.
Paige Hunter, from Sunderland, was stopped from jumping off Wearmouth Bridge by two strangers who approached her and said: “You are worth so much more than this.”
The 21-year-old told The Washington Post how those words “changed my life”. The next day, she wrote the same words on several pieces of paper and returned to the bridge to stick them all over.
She said: “If those words could help me, who else could they help?”
She has since covered the bridge with more than 1,000 signs to uplift others struggling with their mental health, according to the publication, and believes her notes have helped save dozens of lives.
Northumbria Police honoured Hunter in 2018 for her “innovative way to reach out to those in a dark place” and said her notes helped save six lives at the time.
Her colourful, laminated notes include messages such as “Don’t give up. Not now, not tomorrow, not ever” and “Be strong because things will get better. It may be stormy now, but it never rains forever”.
Hunter also makes sure to include contact information on the cards for people to call mental health services. She visits the bridge regularly to check and replace notes every couple of weeks.
Writing the messages of hope is “definitely therapeutic” for Hunter, and she told The Washington Post that she has received” loads of messages” from people who have been helped by the notes on the bridge.
Her initiative, which she calls ‘Notes of Hope’, has gained national attention and local councilman Dominic McDonough said the notes “have made a massive impact” on people in the midst of a mental health crisis.
McDonough, who also heads the funding department of mental health charity If U Care Share, launched a motion in 2019 to make the messages a permanent fixture on the bridge.
The proposal received unanimous backing and permanent signs created by Hunter, alongside local artists, are expected to be installed by the end of summer following delays related to the coronavirus pandemic.
Hunter’s initiative also inspired people outside of the UK, such as 31-year-old Cassie Bond, who decided to do something similar in her city of Spokane, Washington State, after coming across Hunter’s notes on social media.
“I feel really grateful that I’ve been able to help people through my own struggle,” said Hunter.
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