Will & Kate hear touching suicide story at St Thomas’

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge today heard the moving story of a man who was attempting to commit suicide and then was saved by a passer-by.

At St Thomas’ hospital in London, William and Catherine met Jonny Benjamin to speak about his experience with mental health problems and suicide. They were joined by Neil Laybourn, the stranger who stopped Jonny from throwing himself off Waterloo Bridge in 2008; he was then sectioned and treated at the hospital.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge speak with former patient Jonny Benjamin and Neil Laybourn during their visit to St Thomas' Hospital in London. Picture by WPA Rota / i-Images

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge speak with former patient Jonny Benjamin and Neil Laybourn during their visit to St Thomas’ Hospital in London. Picture by WPA Rota / i-Images

Suicide is the biggest killer of men aged 20-45, and the Duke and Duchess want to help those thinking about killing themselves receive better care and attention.

After being rescued by Neil, then still a stranger, Jonny launched the FindMike campaign which went viral on social media. Neil was then found and the pair united.

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During the half-hour meeting, Mr Benjamin said:

“For both of us, the mental health piece has got lots of aspects. It’s such a big issue that we need to do something about it.

William and Catherine chat to two men now supporting suicide awareness campaigns: one tried to commit suicide, the other stopped him. Picture by WPA Rota / i-Images

William and Catherine chat to two men now supporting suicide awareness campaigns: one tried to commit suicide, the other stopped him. Picture by WPA Rota / i-Images

“We feel it’s been raised higher up the ladder. It’s suddenly bubbling just under the surface. Now we need to get up to the next level, to the surface.”

The Duke, in his role as an air ambulance pilot, has seemingly taken the call-outs to suicide emergencies seriously: “Someone told me five people a day try to kill themselves. I was just blown away by the statistics.”

Earlier in the day, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge made a private visit to the Maytree centre in Finsbury Park, north London. It is the only charity providing non-medical residential care for suicidal people in the country.

Here, they spoke with the staff and volunteer team who deal with the ‘last taboo’ of mental health on a daily basis.

Natalie Howarth, Maytree’s director, said: “Maytree’s staff team and volunteers were thrilled to have met The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge today and to have had the opportunity to highlight Maytree’s vital work in suicide prevention.

“Suicide is the last taboo, so to have such a high profile couple shed a light onto the issue is priceless. I hope that their visit to Maytree is a catalyst to a useful and meaningful journey for them both.”

After their visit to St Thomas’, William and Kate headed back to Kensington Palace for a discussion with schoolchildren about their mental health. This is a cause Catherine champions, and has been regularly supporting in recent months.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge discuss mental health issues with children at Kensington Palace. Picture by Rota/ i-Images

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge discuss mental health issues with children at Kensington Palace. Picture by Rota/ i-Images

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