Find Mike campaigner reunited with the stranger who stopped him from taking his life

Now a mental health campaigner, Jonny Benjamin wanted to find the stranger so he could thank him

A man searching for the stranger who stopped him ending his life has found the Good Samaritan.

Jonny Benjamin, 26, had tried to jump from London’s Waterloo Bridge in January 2008 because he was struggling to cope with schizoaffective disorder, but was stopped by a passer-by who helped to change his mind.

Mr Benjamin started his campaign exactly six years after the incident, so he could thank the stranger. He named the search Find Mike because he had forgotten the man’s name in his distressed state.

Soon, #FindMike was trending worldwide on social media, and the campaign, in collaboration with the charity Rethink Mental Illness, was boosted by TV, radio and newspaper interviews.

Finding Mike: man searching for the stranger who stopped him jumping off a bridge into the River Thames  

When Neil Laybourn’s fiancé alerted him to Mr Benjamin’s story, he knew immediately that he was the passer-by Jonny was looking for.

"I was so pleased to see how well Jonny was doing, I had thought about him over the years and had always hoped he was OK," the 31-year-old personal trainer said.

Speaking about the incident, he said: "I didn’t feel it was that big a deal, I did what anyone would do. I wasn’t trying to fix his problems that day, I just listened. Hand on heart that Jonny is one of the nicest people I have ever met, it’s brilliant to see him smiling again.

"We’ll definitely stay in touch," he added.

Rethink Mental Illness announced the news on Twitter with a photo of the pair captioned: "We #foundmike! *Huge* thank you to everyone who shared the #findmike campaign, you made THIS happen".

The photo was taken when the men were reunited on Tuesday.

Mr Benjamin, who is now a mental health campaigner, said: "I feel like I’ve won the lottery – I’m totally elated. It means the world to me to finally have the opportunity to say thank you.

"It’s as though I’ve come full circle and that chapter of my life has now closed. He’s such a warm, genuine person – everyone should have a friend like Neil."

Mr Benjamin said he hopes his story will give others struggling with mental illness some encouragement to take Mr Laybourn's lead.

"It really shows how the simple act of listening can be a huge support to someone who struggling with their mental health and we can all learn from that," Mr Benjamin said.

Paul Jenkins, CEO of Rethink Mental Illness said: "The overwhelming public support for Jonny and his search has been incredible. Every single person who shared his appeal has not only helped find ‘Mike’, but has also helped to open up millions of conversations about mental health.

He continued: "We don’t talk about these issues enough, but the more we do, the more we break down the stigma that surrounds them."

Anyone who is struggling to cope can contact Samaritans on 08457 909090

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' is returning to the Tate more than 15 years after it first caused shockwaves at the gallery
artTracey Emin's bed returns to the Tate after record sale
Environment
Neil Young performing at Hyde Park, London, earlier this month
environment
News
i100
News
Prince Harry is clearing enjoying the Commonwealth Games judging by this photo
people(a real one this time)
Sport
Lionel Messi looks on at the end of the final
football
Extras
indybest
News
Richard Norris in GQ
mediaGQ features photo shoot with man who underwent full face transplant
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Project Coordinator

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: The Organisation: The Green Recrui...

Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

£350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

Embedded Linux Engineer

£40000 - £50000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Embedded Sof...

Senior Hardware Design Engineer - Broadcast

£50000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Working for a m...

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on