In 2003 Mike Richey came across a teenage guy at a bridge outside of Cape Breton, whose eyes were looking straight on the ground 40 feet below. Richey had just recently began his professional career as a juvenile care worker, and he had no crisis intervention training.
Richey started to chat with the youngster while moving closer to the boy and when the child abruptly let go, Richey grabbed him by the shoulders and dragged him over the railing.
“I was constantly concerned about this kid’s well-being and whether or not he was successful in finishing what he was aiming to do that night?'” Richey expresses himself. “There was no way for me to find out, so I had to accept that that was the case. However, it weighed heavily on me.”
For years, the child on the bridge reflected about the stranger who had saved his life that night, wondering whether he had been a product of his troubled imagination or a real person.
Despite the fact that Mark Henick was just 15 when he went over the railing of the bridge, he had already been suffering from melancholy for years and had self harmed on multiple previous occasions.
That night on the bridge proved to be a watershed moment in Henick’s life, as he went on to get his master’s degree in child development and rise to become one of Canada’s most famous mental health activists.
Henick revealed his story in a TedX talk, which has now had more than 6.5 million views, and started to wonder whether he would be able to track down the stranger in light brown jacket who saved his life. Meanwhile, a buddy of Richey’s had given him a link to Henick’s lecture, saying, “I believe this man is referring to you.”
“I’ve just had a breakdown. “I was filled with joy that he was still alive and doing such wonderful things in his life,” recalls Rickey. He wanted to contact out right away, but he didn’t want to “barge into his life” because he didn’t think it was appropriate.
Fortunately, the two men were able to communicate immediately, and Richey wrote his message, which started, “Hi Mark, my name is Mike.”
Richey traveled to Toronto, where Henick resides, a few months later in 2015, and the two eventually met in person.
Henick confessed to Richey that he didn’t know how to express his gratitude. “How can you express gratitude to someone who has given you their whole life?” he wonders.
“I realized that the finest thing I could do for him was to demonstrate the life that he had given me and I introduced him to my wife and my then 2-year-old young kid.”
Richey goes on to say: “All I ever wanted was to know that he was safe over those years.” I couldn’t have asked for more than to find out he’s doing OK.”