At least 6 lives have been saved thanks to her notes.
Paige Hunter said she only wanted to help others struggling to talk about mental health issues. Now, a local police department is honoring the 18-year-old for what they called an “inspired” idea that has literally saved lives.
Hunter wrote dozens of encouraging letters and posted the signs along the Wearmouth Bridge in Sunderland, England.
The simple but encouraging signs included messages like:
"Even though things are difficult, your life matters.”
"Just hold on."
"The world is much better with you in it."
Paige said she never wanted an award, just a better way to cope with the often overwhelming burden of mental illness. And she's expanding her efforts to other bridges as well.
"She should be very proud of herself," said Northumbria Police Ch Supt Sarah Pitt.
She’s a firsthand expert in coping with mental health issues.
Paige said she herself experiences PTSD and knows firsthand what navigating suicidal thoughts feels like.
“When things got hard and I felt alone, I went to the Wearmouth Bridge on a couple of occasions and that feeling you get when you are debating whether to stay is absolutely terrifying," she said.
"I didn't want people to feel the same way I did."
Preventing suicide is a complex issue. But sometimes it starts with a little love.
With suicide rates rising steadily in the U.S., mental health issues are more relevant than ever.
It’s a complex issue that requires serious work at the highest levels of government to improve access to mental health services and extends all the way down to the families and friends of those affected by mental health challenges.
But sometimes a small gesture means everything.
Hunter Paige is a reminder how much of a difference one person with a simple message can make. She’s changing lives, saving lives and bringing light to the issue of mental health.