Stevenage woman who was suicidal vows lifelong campaign to help others in crisis
PUBLISHED: 08:27 10 October 2019
A woman who has long-term mental health problems and has come close to taking her own life says she "won't ever stop" trying to help others in crisis.
Hayley Long, who lives in Stevenage, has borderline personality disorder, depression and anxiety. In May last year she suffered a breakdown and went to a railway station to end her life, before police officers intervened.
Later that year, in October, she came up with the idea of making cards with inspirational messages on them, and including helpline numbers on the reverse, and leaving them around Stevenage.
Initially, 500 cards were tied to bridges and left in parks and woods. Hayley said at the time: "My idea behind this is that when we are in our darkest moments and we can't think straight, the posters will encourage people to reach out and realise they are not alone and that people care."
One year on, which coincides with World Mental Health Day, Hayley said of the initiative: "It has exceeded what I ever set out to do. More than 4,000 cards have been given to schools, hospitals, care workers and mental health teams, and they are in doctors' surgeries. Giant banners are in circulation too.
You may also want to watch:
"I have sent card bundles to over 55 kind people for distribution all over the UK, and over 2,500 large cards are up and making a difference near train stations and by bridges.
"I have recieved many messages from people who saw my cards and it gave them the courage to seek help.
"A lady messaged me and she was on a bus, running away from her husband and children because she felt ashamed and alone. Once we chatted, she went back home and told him how she felt and has since seen her doctor and is in a much better place.
"People sharing my poster on social media has the biggest effect, and it's giving people hope and strength to keep going when they have read my story. It does get better. Keep talking." Of her own battles with mental illness, Hayley said: "I struggle with sleeping and have night terrors, panic attacks and flashbacks from previous trauma. Every day is different and I still struggle, but I'm learning that talking helps.
"I want to encourage anyone struggling to reach out and not suffer alone.
"I won't ever stop. To know I have helped so many people encourages me to keep going."
If you need support, you can call Samaritans on the free and confidential 24-hour helpline 116 123 or visit samaritans.org.uk.