When the world was getting too much for Becky Sumner, the kindness of a stranger prevented her taking the most drastic of actions. Today, she bravely tells her story to SARAH CARTER, to help give others hope and encourage them to reach out
Becky Sumner felt that she had nowhere left to turn as she stood contemplating ending her life.
She had suffered a relapse of depression and emotionally unstable personality disorder, but a kind stranger at Preston Bus Station intervened to talk her round.
Brave Becky, 26, has now spoken out about her experience to thank her “guardian angel”, who was tracked down after a Facebook post was shared hundreds of times, and to encourage others to seek help.
“I thought, ‘I can’t go on any longer’ and I just felt like I couldn’t be helped in any way”, said Becky, remembering her state of mind earlier this month.
“I suffer from mental health problems, I have done since I was about 16.
“I’ve been in and out of psychiatric hospitals for a long time, but for the last two months I had another relapse. I started feeling really really low, I had things that happened that triggered it and it just got worse.”
Becky, who lives in Chorley, said: “I was sitting at the back of the double-decker bus, nobody could see me, I just kept looking at the picture of my late foster father saying, ‘Please just give me a sign and I’ll turn back’.
“I got to the bus station, had a cigarette, and then I just made my way up to the top.
“This guy appeared out of nowhere. I can’t even remember what he said, I think he said, ‘I’m going for a coffee, do you want a chat?’
“I didn’t talk to him, I was just standing at the edge. I think he went to tell somebody I was there and he came back.”
The pair had a short conversation and Becky started crying when the stranger, called Julian, offered Becky a hug.
She said: “He didn’t let me go until the police arrived, and the policewoman who came said, ‘That man saved your life.’
“I ended up getting admitted to hospital and sectioned.
“I went to the GP and let it all out and it just went from there. Now I’m not as bad as I felt then, I feel a lot stronger. I am just trying to take little steps and try to talk to people, and find the strength to keep going.”
Becky wrote a post on her Facebook page to try to track down the man who helped her. Within 24 hours, it had been shared more than 1,600 times, and Julian eventually commented on it.
The pair spoke on the phone, and Becky said: “To me, it’s so big what he did but he doesn’t see it like that, he sees it that anybody would have done the same.
“I just kept thanking him.
“It was like coming face-to-face with my guardian angel. I’ve never had that before and it was an experience I’ll never forget.
“If I ever feel like that again after that conversation with him, I think it will always come into my mind and make me think differently about things.”
Becky said she wanted to share her story to “give people hope”.
She said: “I’m not doing this for me, I just want to raise awareness about mental health and send out the message that you can be in such a dark place and somebody you don’t know can do one little action and it can change your whole life.
“I had always believed in God, but this relapse I had lost my faith in him completely. Then after that day, it made me think there is a God after all.”
Becky also thanked the emergency services that helped that day, in particularly one of the three police officers.
She said: “She knew how overwhelming it was for me, having so many people around.
“She put her hand in my hand and she was just so kind. I realised it was more than just a job to her.”
Help is there
Eileen Brierley, director at Preston Samaritans, said: “Life is tough and everyone can become overwhelmed, and what’s important when you are starting to feel overwhelmed is that you feel you can talk about it.
“If you reach out, you are going to get effective support.
“Suicidal thoughts are not uncommon. We want people to come forward much sooner and recognise they need help, which is why we are here all the time.
“Any of us can feel overwhelmed and we know talking helps, and we are here to listen.
“Feeling overwhelmed is not uncommon.
“The more as a society we let people talk about those feelings the better, because if they bottle them up, the more likely they are to feel trapped and like there’s no alternative.
“There is always an alternative.”
Anyone can contact Samaritans for free from any phone on 116 123 and it won’t show up on your phone bill.
Or email firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.samaritans.org to find details of your nearest branch.
Other useful contacts for anyone who needs help include:
Mind: 0300 123 3393, email@example.com. Text: 86463
Addaction: 0300 012 0012 or text ‘Talk’ to 82085.
Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services: Parents helpline 0808 802 5544
The Foxton Centre, Preston: 01772 555925
Wellbeing and Mental Health Helpline for the people of Lancashire (Lancashire Care): 0800 915 4640