#Findmike: The Stranger On The Bridge
On 14 January 2008 Jonny Benjamin, 20, went to Waterloo Bridge to take his own life. He had recently been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder and was in hospital receiving treatment for it. He thought that his life was over and he could see no hope for the future living with this illness.
However, a stranger who happened to be walking along the bridge managed to engage him and talk him down. Jonny was subsequently taken by the police back to hospital and never saw the stranger again. Since that moment, Jonny's life has changed completely. He is now a popular writer, video blogger and mental health campaigner, working hard to break the stigma attached to mental illness and help others living with it. But he never had the chance to thank the good Samaritan he named 'Mike' for what he did that January morning, which Jonny attributes to helping him turn things around.
The 'Finding Mike' story began on 14 January 2014 when Jonny launched his campaign to find the stranger on the sixth anniversary of their meeting. The campaign was supported by Rethink Mental Illness and Postcard Productions as a way of raising awareness about mental illness and the problem of suicide in young men.
However, the campaign exceeded all Jonny's expectations by going viral around the world. Its hashtag #findmike trended on Twitter in the UK, Australia, and South Africa, and the story was shared by thousands on social media. Meanwhile, Jonny was giving interview after interview both nationally and internationally, from BBC Radio 4 to CNN to Australian breakfast television.
What happened next though took everyone by complete surprise - numerous different 'Mikes' came forward to say they were the stranger from the bridge. With Jonny having little recollection of the encounter and unsure that 'Mike' was even his real name, the detective work began in earnest with Jonny working through the leads, speaking to and meeting them.
Alongside this search for 'Mike', Jonny meets other people affected by the campaign including a young woman whose twin brother took his own life by jumping from a bridge in London. She wants to get an insight into what her brother was going through from Jonny and thank him for the work he's doing to raise awareness of the biggest killer of young men in the UK.
The film ends with Jonny finally being reunited with the real ‘Mike' in a very emotional meeting in which he finally gets to say thanks and close the chapter on this very difficult period of his life.
Directed by Sam Forsdike
Produced by Jonny Benjamin, Natasha Coleman and Richard Bentley
Director of Photography Franklin Dow Editor Lizzie Minnion
Music by Echoic Audio
Produced by Postcard Productions