UK

Jonny Benjamin, Mental Health Campaigner, Meets Duke And Duchess Of Cambridge To Raise Awareness Of Suicide

10/03/2016 14:55 GMT | Updated 10/03/2016 15:59 GMT

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have met a mental health campaigner and the man who saved his life, as part of an event to raise awareness of suicide prevention.

Jonny Benjamin met the Royal couple with Neil Laybourn, the man who talked him down from Waterloo Bridge from which he was going to jump in 2008.

Benjamin was taken to St Thomas' Hospital in central London, where he was sectioned, but fled to try and kill himself. He told his story as part of The Huffington Post UK's 'Young Minds Matter' series, when the Duchess guest-edited the site for a day to raise awareness about children's mental health.

On Twitter, Benjamin shared a form from 2008, detailing the then 20-year-old's admission to the hospital and using the hashtag #ItGetsBrighter.

Benjamin tracked Neil down after a social media campaign he launched in 2014 #FindMike, to find the man whose real name he had never learned.

Having met the two men earlier today, the Cambridges are due to watch a film - 'Stranger On The Bridge' - about Benjamin's story at Kensington Palace later with around 20 young people. Benjamin and Laybourn will lead a discussion of the issues it raises.

Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William at St Thomas' Hospital

Before the meeting, Benjamin said: "I am so honoured to take part in this event to raise awareness about suicide prevention. Every day in Britain 17 families lose a father, brother, mother or sister to suicide.

"It is vital that every school includes mental health education to help prevent future tragedies.”

Speaking to HuffPost UK for Young Minds Matter, he said of his suicide attempt: "I don’t know how long I’d been on there for when this person stopped and just began talking to me, asking me questions like 'What’s going on?' and 'Where are you from? Step over and we’ll just go for a coffee.'

"At first I wanted him to just go away but he was very calm and very empathetic and kind of broke my bubble of despair. I guess the real turning point was him saying: 'Look, I believe you can get better'."