Today’s guest post comes from DADnamic, who tells his story of how starting a conversation about mental health and mental illness can help to save lives.
Trigger warning: This post includes topics such as suicidal thoughts/attempts and details of mental distress which some may find upsetting. If you think you are at risk of being triggered or upset by these topics, please do not read any further.
My job has me travelling all around London – every single day is a different place – in all sorts of weather, meeting so many different people.
Some people are happy, some are nervous, some are angry, and then there was this family.
At Charing Cross station stairs, leading down to the platform, she was sat on the right-hand side, with her head in her hands. My colleague and I walked around the corner and took two steps before thinking something wasn’t right.
Hello? Are you okay? Are you lost? Do you need anything?
The silence was deafening.
Down at the bottom of the stairs stood a man holding large carrier bags in each hand, just staring at her.
So many things went through my mind at this point… Family tragedy, domestic abuse, rape, so on and so forth. Regardless of the situation, it is one that cannot be ignored.
Hi sir, is everything okay?
“My wife, she is very depressed, she has been for years. I am a Pastor and it is too much for her. She is ready to give up.”
The Nigerian accent is strong but clear; the message is received. I look up the stairs to my colleague who has sat down beside the woman to speak to her.
She starts shouting “My baby, my baby!” Oh s**t, I am now expecting to find a child on the platform or lost.
I run on to the right-sided platform either side and see no child running around. I turn round to head to the left side and two easily six-foot-tall, very strongly built teenagers walk through shouting “F**king come on mum, for f**k’s sake!” They are followed by a smaller boy.
The woman shuffles down the stairs on her bottom until she reaches the bottom, stands up and walks towards the platform, grabbing the child’s hand in the process.
My colleague had run to notify the control room about the potential situation. He got there in time and the next train rolled in at 5mph.
She looks at the train, takes a deep sigh, and begins to sob.
I take her and her son over to the seat on the platform and ask the rest of the family to give her space and help stop passengers coming this far down.
The staff on the underground have notified the British Transport Police who are en-route, and we begin talking.
The boy pulls out his iPad and begins playing a game. The mother finally starts talking.
“We have been rejected to go back to Nigeria. My son,” she looks at him, “he has the devil in him. That boy is the devil.” The boy at this point is playing a game and is shouting DIE DIE DIE at it. “You see, you see! The boy is the devil and I need to get him released! Banished! I should throw both of us in front of that.” She points to the train track.
I am now fearing for the boy’s safety as well. We talk a bit more and agree to go to a safe room (the staff mess room) where we can have tea, coffee, and biscuits.
The British Transport Police arrive. She begins to talk normally about how upset she is and how things are not going well. Then all of a sudden, she stands up and flips the table.
The woman is then sectioned, whilst the children and are taken by the dad to go see her.
The dad almost breaks down and cuddles his child.
The family have now been receiving support and are in a much better place, moving forward in every aspect of their lives.
Unfortunately, it was a desperate situation where immediate decisions had to be made based on preserving life. I wish I could have spoken to her all day. It was not nice in the slightest but the outcome has been amazing.
Please stop and talk to someone who may need assistance. If it doesn’t seem right, just talk.
A huge thank you to DADnamic for sharing this story. It truly shows the impact that compassion can have, in what could have been a devastating situation.
If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this post, please see below for a list of useful links, or you can reach out to your GP.