A British radio host bravely opened up about his own depression then helped save a suicidal fan in dramatic fashion.

UK radio host and comedian Iain Lee is open about his own mental health struggles. Perhaps that’s why a suicidal man reached out to him during what could have been his final hours.

The caller, known only as “Chris,” called Lee some short distance from a nightclub, where he lay in the street, having overdosed on a cocktail of drugs.

“I do want to die, Iain,” the caller insisted, slurring his words.


“Shut up, man,” the radio host replied. “I know you want to die, brother, but I love you. I love you. You may want to die, but we can talk about that tomorrow.”

For Lee, “tomorrow” was the only option. He refused to entertain the alternative, staying on the phone with Chris for 27 minutes until emergency services arrived at the scene.

Like many comedians, Lee was no stranger to depression—he too battled suicidal thoughts after coming off antidepressants. Perhaps he understood from personal experience what research confirms: “connectedness acts as a buffer against hopelessness and psychological pain.”

As the call stretched on, Chris grew increasingly unintelligible, slipping in and out of consciousness. “This is horrendous,” Lee said during a particularly anxiety-inducing silence near the end of the call. “Can anyone hear me? Hello, can anyone hear me?” At long last, a quiet murmur reassured Lee and his listeners Chris was holding on. “Chris, you’re still alive! Thank Christ.”

When police finally confirmed to Lee the man had been found, the radio host broke down in tears.

Later, having collected himself, he tweeted:

“Tonight we took a call from a man who had taken an overdose. He was lying in a street in Plymouth, dying. We managed to keep him online, get a description of what he looked like and was wearing, work out where he was, and send an ambulance and police to him. Kept him on the phone for 30 minutes while he got harder to understand.”

“Long periods of silence where I thought he’d died. F___, that was intense and upsetting. Thanks for your kind words. I really hope he makes it.”

Despite having saved this man’s life, Lee humbly shrugs off notions of himself and his radio colleagues as having done anything exceptional.

“I don’t consider us heroes,” he tweeted. “We were just in the right place at the right time. We did out jobs as broadcasters and more important we did our jobs as humans.”

December—with its long, dark nights and emotionally fraught holiday season—is a difficult month for many, and reports of low mood and depression do increase.

However, the idea that suicides spike around this time of year just isn’t true. According to an article in The Atlantic, “the overwhelming majority of people who kill themselves are mentally ill,” — and mental illness doesn’t abide by a calendar. That said, the holidays are a time for togetherness—for connectedness—and for sharing, even if that means sharing your pain.

“Don’t suffer in silence,” Lee advises in a tweet. “[If] you’re so sad it hurts… share it with someone.”

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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Simon & Garfunkel's song "Bridge Over Troubled Water" has been covered by more than 50 different musical artists, from Aretha Franklin to Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson. It's a timeless classic that taps into the universal struggle of feeling down and the comfort of having someone to lift us up. It's beloved for its soothing melody and cathartic lyrics, and after a year of pandemic challenges, it's perhaps more poignant now than ever.

A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

But British singer Jacob Collier recently added his own layered harmony tracks to it, taking the performance to a whole other level.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less