A British teenager has been commended by police for helping to stop some six people from taking their own lives by pinning messages of hope to a bridge in northern England.
Paige Hunter, 18, wrote more than 40 uplifting messages and tied them to the railings of Sunderland’s Wearmouth Bridge in a bid to offer solace to people facing a mental health crisis.
Among the notes, written in brightly-coloured pens, were the words: “You are not alone”, “If you end it now you will be so deeply missed”, and "Even though things are difficult, your life matters; you're a shining light in a dark world, so just hold on."
Northumbria Police Chief Superintendent Sarah Pitt described the student's messages as “an innovative way to reach out to those in a dark place".
“It is important that we encourage people to speak out and raise awareness of mental health issues and the impact on people's lives,” Pitt said in a statement.
To thank Hunter, police this week presented her with a certificate commending her efforts.
“The messages of hope you attached to the Wearmouth Bridge are not only thought-provoking but also comforting to those who are struggling to cope and in despair,” the certificate says.
Hunter, who who has been told by police that her signs have already helped to save six lives, described receiving the certificate as "overwhelming".
She said she started the message campaign because of her own experiences with mental health battles.
"I suffer with PTSD and have been on the bridge myself and that feeling you get where you are debating whether to carry on living is absolutely terrifying and I didn't want anyone else to feel the way I did on the bridge", she told Euronews.
"I wanted them to know that there are people who will listen and support you through those feelings," added Hunter, who is now using the publicity generated by her campaign to raise money for a mental health charity.
A Eurostat report this month found that just over 1% of total deaths in the European Union in 2015 were caused by suicide.
If you’re affected by any of the issues in this article, please find a list of suicide helplines by country here.