On Thursday morning, radio show host Iain Lee kept a caller on the line for half an hour after the caller had revealed to him that he’d taken a cocktail of drugs, aiming to end his own life. The caller, known only as Chris, told him that he had PTSD and said, “I do want to die, Iain.” As the phone call carried on, Chris got harder to understand and there were periods of excruciating silence. Luckily, the ambulance team managed to find him near a nightclub and have taken him into hospital for further treatment. Throughout it all, Iain Lee kept talking to him, giving him words of encouragement such as, “I know you want to die, brother, but I love you. I love you. You may want to die, but we can talk about that tomorrow.”
After the event had passed, Lee tweeted, “Tonight we took a call from a man who had taken an overdose. He was lying in a street in Plymouth, dying … Long periods of silence where I thought he’d died. F**k, that was intense and upsetting. Thanks for your kind words. I really hope he makes it.”
Lee has spoken openly over the past month on his radio show about how coming off a course of anti-depressants had left him suicidal. Despite how hard it is to put into words how it feels to be depressed, Lee has been incredibly open and honest about his experiences. It’s hard to tell, but perhaps Lee’s openness to talk about how depressed he felt encouraged Chris to pick up the phone and talk. That half an hour won’t be something either of them forgets in a hurry. When you’re on the brink of suicide, what saves you isn’t a grand act of heroism, it’s sometimes someone just taking the time to chat to you and tell you it’ll be alright, which I suppose is an act of heroism in itself. But it’s such a small thing that can have a seismic effect.
Since the event, tweets have poured in from all over the world in support of how Iain Lee handled the situation. He said, “I don’t consider us heroes. We were just in the right place at the right time … we did our jobs as humans. Don’t suffer in silence.”
This time of year can be difficult, especially if you’ve lost loved ones and are spending your days alone. It’s the busiest time for mental health services up and down the country, as well as for the police, and the figures don’t appear to be dropping any time soon. According to mind.org, 1 in 4 people will suffer a mental health problem each year, and that figure just accounts for the people who seek help. These stories remind us all how important it is to reach out to someone, especially if you think they might be on their own. Sometimes all it takes to save a life is a phone call.
Written by Rochelle Asquith