A Biker’s Message
I’m so thankful for people who aren’t afraid to show compassion, and who aren’t afraid to reach out to someone else in need. I heard a story of such a person: a bike messenger in San Francisco– who had been a bike messenger for 25 years–not only happened to be in the right place at the right time, but he happened to do the right thing, too.
One day, he biked across the Golden Gate Bridge like he had done many times before. If you’ve ever cycled in a busy city, you’ll understand how hard this can be: the Golden Gate Bridge is often filled with tourists, walkers, joggers and others on bikes. Somehow, out of all the people around him, he saw HER. A woman dressed in a business suit who seemed perplexed, even sad.
He rode by her and intended to keep going– he had documents to deliver and a full workday ahead of him. But the thought that “something’s wrong” made him stop his bike, turn around and go back to find her. When he returned to where she was, she leaned far over the rail.
“Are you OK?” he called. She didn’t respond. He reached out and put his hand on her shoulder and asked again: “Miss, are you OK?” she jumped back, startled. He could see her eyes were filled with tears.
She sat down with her back to the rail and the bike messenger joined her. He asked her: “Were you going to jump?”
“Yes,” she said.
“Do you have any kids?”
“Yes… two girls,” the woman answered.
The conversation continued and the bike messenger told her that her children needed her. He urged her to go home to her kids and to tell them she loved them. He urged her to get mental health help. He exchanged numbers with the woman and told her to call him when she arrived home, safe so he would know that her life didn’t end that day by suicide.
And the woman kept her promise: she got home that night, kissed her kids and called the bike messenger to let him know she was all right.
The bike messenger and the woman have been great friends since. After all, he saved her life. If he hadn’t stopped– if he had simply ridden past her– two little girls would be without a mother and another positive member of our society would have been lost.
Compassion can not only change a person’s life, but save one, too. Never be afraid to reach out; it may matter more than you know.
Thank you for the story of the bike messenger and mother. The death by suicide of my son has made me very sensitive to people I come in contact with every day so much so that when I young woman started talking to me and saying how my compassion had affected her, she had to explain to me that two years earlier I had spoken to her at the waterfront one summer’s evening about her lovely smile and wonderful eyes. That day she felt invisible and our encounter made her feel like a woman again.
I will soon celebrate the 5th anniversary of surviving my own suicide attempt in a parking lot overlooking the ocean on the central coast. If it hadn’t been for the park ranger I would not be here today for my 2 daughters, my husband and extended family. It’s a joy to be alive and a joy to be there for others suffering with mental illness, especially those needing electro convulsive therapy and have experienced psychosis.
I have now found my voice and love of speaking, giving In Our Own Voice presentations and Stamp out Stigma. I’m not afraid of mental illness anymore; especially my own. The more I talk about it, the better the chance that someone out there like this bike rider will stop and reach out to someone they sense is in need of help. That’s all it takes to save a life and the well being of that persons’ family. What a gift to give people, especially the kids. We are after all a community and with a little help from a stranger, we learn what it is to be connected as human beings.
Thank you for this story. It brought tears to my eyes. To know that there are such compassionate and caring people still out there, including you Kevin, it gives me hope in a world filled w/sadness and pain. As long as we have each other’s back…this world would be a better place. Thanks for sharing.
Thank you, Kevin, for all the help and compassion you show others.
I experienced something similar after losing my son, Matt, to a jump at the Golden Gate Bridge.
Our family was planning a trip – which was to celebrate Matt’s graduation. It was only 4 months after he died. I couldn’t leave without saying goodbye to him.
I went to the bridge, to standard 97, with a dozen white roses. It was in the morning on a workday, so there weren’t many walkers.
As I stood there crying, talking to Matt, saying Goodbye, a tandem bicycle went past me.
I didn’t realize they stopped until the man was at my side.
He asked if I was okay and I explained why I was there. I thanked him for stopping.
I wished he had ridden by when Matt was there.