In May 2017, Lisa Barnes from Manchester was feeling down and couldn’t shake it off. She went to work like any other day, but by mid-morning she couldn’t stand being in the office.
“The noise seemed so loud that I couldn’t think straight and people around me all seemed to want my attention. I tried really hard to block it all out, but it just got worse”
Lisa had been in a car accident a few years prior and still carried medication in her bag. In an attempt to shut out the pain, she took a few. Then she took more. The next thing she remembers was the noise of an ambulance siren and the sound of her name being said over and over. After three days in the hospital, she was finally discharged.
Though surviving this incident, Lisa still could not shake away her negative feelings. Over the following weeks she continued to feel strange and sensitive to everything.
“By June, I couldn’t take the pain and the black cloud that hung over me anymore. That’s when I found myself on the bridge. I had taken another overdose and was drinking gin.”
Though she doesn’t remember, Lisa was on the bridge for three hours. After being talked down by a police officer and then sectioned for another 24 hours, Lisa was finally released to the care of her husband. After surviving this second incident and struggling through the recovery process, Lisa eventually gained access to a private counsellor who she continues to see today.
“If I wasn’t in a position to be able to afford this, I don’t know where I would be today”.
The Birth of ‘Bridge The Gap’
After hearing news of another person jumping from a bridge near her home, Lisa decided that something needed to be done and so she started the ‘Bridge The Gap’ project. The project aims to help prevent suicides on local bridges by posting handwritten signs with positive and encouraging messages along with suicide hotline information for those struggling with suicidal thoughts.
Lisa recognised that there is a gap between the dark moment when you’re at the bridge, and the help that is available after such traumatic events. The signs provided by Bridge The Gap help to address this by bringing comfort and valuable advice in the moment to those struggling with suicide, while also raising awareness and creating a dialogue surrounding mental health so that others are prepared to handle suicidal thoughts themselves or help others.
As of September 2018, 27 bridges across Greater Manchester have been adorned with signs of hope and positivity from the Bridge The Gap project, and the public response has been overwhelming – showing how much people out there are struggling with suicide.
“We know of eighteen people that have been to bridges and walked away due to our signs. It makes everything we do so worthwhile.”
Having experienced the moment at the bridge herself, Lisa gives the following advice to those struggling with suicidal thoughts or those recovering from past incidents.
1. Talk – “You need to talk about it. Find somebody that you feel comfortable with and talk”
2. Stay Occupied – “What worked for me was keeping myself occupied with things I enjoyed. I ran everyday to clear my head; even a walk outside can change your mood”
The future of Bridge The Gap is bright. Lisa has lots of plans and ideas for the future and is looking into making the project a charity organisation.
If you would like to know more about the Bridge The Gap project or get involved, you can access the project’s Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/Bridge-The-Gap-175147776473509/
If you or anyone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, remember you are not alone.
If you are feeling low or anxious The Lily-Jo Project is available 24 hours a day 7 days a week.
You can also contact Samaritans who offer a telephone helpline which is available 24 hours a day 7 days a week at: 116 123
Written by Beki Cook
Edited by Shelby Hale