East Durham College Student Paige Hunter Brings Messages of Hope to Millions of People
It all started with an idea - Paige Hunter wanted to reach out to those in despair, and made a plan to place notes of hope on the Wearmouth Bridge in Sunderland.
Paige, who is 18 and studies at EDC, wrote the notes to hopefully make those contemplating ending their own life stop and rethink. Paige knows first hand how this feels, having suffered from PTSD and depression and considering ending her own life in the past too.
Speaking on This Morning, Paige said: "It was quite hard to deal with the flashbacks constantly, it was like 10 a week. It got to the point where I just couldn't deal with that anymore, so I did actually go the bridge. When you're on the bridge and you're debating whether your life is actually worth living, it's the hardest and most terrifying experience ever."
Just four months ago, Paige once again found herself at the bridge, dark thoughts swirling through her mind. She was saved by a passing van, where two men told her she was worth so much more than she thought. She took this message on board, and was inspired to create messages of hope to reach out to others in need.
240 different notes have been handwritten by Paige and attached to the Wearmouth Bridge. The notes carry many different messages, including examples such as 'you're not alone', 'Be Strong, because things will get better', 'Hey little fighter, soon things will be brighter' and many also have the number of the Samaritans on them, to encourage people to reach out to others.
Around a month later, Paige's idea has touched the hearts of people worldwide. Paige has appeared on the local news, talked with Eamonn and Ruth on This Morning and her story has gone viral on social media. Videos about Paige's story have been shared by countless different outlets, racking up - at the time of writing - over 13 million views, with comments pouring in from people all over the world.
Paige has also received an award from Northumberland Police, who recognised her commitment to reducing suicide in our region.
Paige has already been contacted by six different people, each of whom have told her that her notes are the reason why they decided not to end their own life. One of these people actually reached out to the college directly on Facebook, stating: "Honestly she is such an outstanding girl with a heart of gold. Thank you, and what Paige has done has made me call out for help of friends family and professionals."
Honestly, we can't put into words how proud we are of what Paige has done.
This is the power of social media, where one girl who has been through dark times herself can do such a selfless act, and bring about awareness and discussion about mental health in a positive way.
Remember, if you're ever in a dark place, Stay Strong - Paige is living proof that there can be a change for you, and it's important to reach out to family, friends, or indeed anyone at college, school or work. You are not alone, and people really do care.
If you'd like to speak to anyone at the College, do so in complete confidence. You can talk to any member of staff, contact a safeguarding lead, or talk to our counsellor on site.