In the United States, suicide is the third leading cause of death for 15 to 24 year olds and second for 24 to 35 year olds. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the tragic epidemic has taken the lives of 44,965 Americans every year, including some of the world's most famous celebrities.
Luckily, not only are there plenty of resources out there for those in need, individual members of the public are also going out of their way to lend their support.
One of these people is Paige Hunter, 18, who's suffered from PTSD and depression for the past four years. Although she has her own struggles to deal with, the teenager has attached several messages of support on the Wearmouth Bridge in Sunderland, England in hopes that others won't feel the same painful loneliness she's felt in the past.
While Hunter only started her project a month ago, she's credited with already saving eight lives by leaving comforting messages on the bridge, such as: "You're Not Alone" and "Even though things are difficult, your life matters; you’re a shining light in a dark world, so just hold on."
"I’ve been on that bridge a few times myself," Hunter said according to the Daily Metro. "When you’re standing at the edge, debating whether your live is worth living, it’s the most terrifying thing in the world. I didn’t want anyone else to ever feel that way – it’s an incredibly lonely feeling."
Hunter said she decided to tie the notes on the Wearmouth Bridge since she knew from her own personal experience that it's the same "place where many others from my city go for the same reason."
"At the beginning I hoped to just help one person who had those thoughts to stop and think about what they were about to do. Even if it just made one person smile again, it would’ve been worth it – but now it’s saved over eight people," she said.
"I’m so glad to know I’ve been able to play a part in touching someone’s life. It’s very important that anyone struggling with their mental health to speak out and get help," Hunter continued.
"There’s so much stigma around mental health, and I hope that people start talking about it openly, then they’ll realize it’s actually nothing to be ashamed of," the university student added.
Hunter's notes haven't gone unnoticed by the city either. The Northumbria Police have applauded her altruistic deeds by presenting her with a framed commendation certificate.
"We thought it was important to applaud the work Paige has been doing and the help she has given those in Sunderland who are going through a mental health crisis," Chief Sarah Pitt said according to Chronicle Live.
"Paige has shown an incredible understanding of vulnerable people in need of support, and this is an innovative way to reach out to those in a dark place," Pitt added.
“For somebody so young, Paige has shown a real maturity and we thought it would only be right to thank her personally. She should be very proud of herself.
"It is important that we encourage people to speak out and raise awareness of mental health issues and the impact on peoples’ lives."
After Hunter was presented with the certificate, Hunter clarified she didn't write her 40 messages for notoriety, but to give strength to those who are internally suffering.
"I wasn’t doing this for an award; it was just something that I wanted to do," Hunter said. "My family are just proud of me and I’m going to put it up on the wall. I just want to help people."
"Since I put the messages up I’ve had a lot of comments from people. They’ve said it’s been really inspiring," she concluded. "It’s just amazing, the response it has had."
If you or anyone you know needs help, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
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