A father who tried to commit suicide by jumping off a 53ft bridge is running the London Marathon, to raise money for the charity which helped him through ‘an extremely tough time’.
Daniel Patten, from Alnwick, will tackle tomorrow’s 26.2-mile challenge in aid of the Samaritans.
The 31-year-old, who teaches at the town’s Duchess’s Community High School, admits that he can’t believe how lucky he was to survive.
And now he wants to do all he can to raise money for Samaritans and boost the profile of the charity.
In a brave move, Daniel, who is married to Joanne and is father to Wilfred and baby Beatrix, has decided to share his story.
He said: “Eighteen months ago, I jumped off a 53ft bridge.
“I thought it was for the best, for the good of all involved, as I was just going to let people down. I’d had enough. I couldn’t cope. I hadn’t spoken to anyone and thought that I should be able to cope with life as it was. But I couldn’t and very quickly came up with the solution.
“I really shouldn’t be here, but I am. Looking back I can’t believe how lucky I was that day.
“I had and have a million reasons to be grateful, but my mind had spiralled out of control.
“I mistakenly thought that it would be a good thing for my amazing wife, my beautiful son and my loving family to be free of my own perceived ineptitude and my own internal anguish would be over.
“I have lots of people to thank for still being here, but initially it involved the police, ambulance service, fire service, Northumberland National Park Mountain Rescue Team, Great North Air Ambulance, the RVI Main Trauma Centre, the staff who had to be with me on suicide watch and all the ward staff who got me physically back on my feet.
“Two days later, dazed, battered and amazingly not too physically broken, I was at home. However, with the enormity of what I tried to do and the impact it was still having on myself, and of course my family, I descended into just as fragile mental state again.
“The feeling of worthlessness, now mixed with huge guilt, meant a further attempt could have easily happened. Phone calls to Samaritans, May Tree and the Northumberland Mental Health Crisis Team got me through. I can’t thank them enough.”
He decided to be sectioned, firstly at Shoredrift Ward, in Sunderland, and then at St George’s Park, Morpeth.
He said: “I was scared going in, but I can’t thank them enough. They provided a safe and stable environment that helped me make the first steps forward. I was there two weeks and I met some wonderful people – patients and staff – and for me it further helped break down stigmas of others with mental-health issues.
“Getting home, St George’s and the Crisis Team further helped my family and I put things in place so that we could move forward.
“As a teacher in a small community, I felt like everyone knew and I didn’t know how I could ever move away from being ‘the one who jumped off a bridge’. My anxiety was overwhelming and crippling. However, I still attended St George’s for art therapy and the Crisis Team supported me. This in turn, became the Community Mental Health Team at Hawkhill. I hit the gym every day, I read lots of self-help books. I tried to meditate. My school were amazing and people were overwhelmingly kind.
“More than anything, my wife was there. She is a truly amazing person. Her dad committed suicide when she was five. Her sister was killed when she was 18. Then I did this. She carried me through and I love her so much. My parents, Julie and Neil, gave me unwavering love and support. My twin brother Ian, friends and family helped me realise that people do really care and I had worth.
“In time, I began to have faith in myself and got back into routines. I went back to work. Staff were kind and students were accepting. My worst fears did not materialise in the slightest.
“I’m not fixed and I will never take my mental health for granted, but feel sure that if I continue to hold mental health in the highest regard, I will live a truly happy life. Worrying achieves nothing.”
He says that if you are feeling desperate, it is important you get help, whether it’s ringing Samaritans, speaking to a friend or doing something like running, reading or meditating. He said: “Don’t sacrifice mental health for anything. I’m not ashamed of what I’ve done, but I wish I had sort help first.”
Daniel is running the London Marathon for several reasons. He said: “I am doing it to get the message out there that people need to talk and get help. I also want to raise funds for Samaritans so that others can get the help that I have had. The Samaritans are such good listeners and each time I spoke to them, I felt lighter. I hope that help will always be available to all. I am also doing it in dedication to my family. I’m so sorry for what I put them through and shall be forever grateful for still being in their lives.”
Daniel has so far raised just over £1,550 for the cause. To make a donation, visit his online fund-raising page.
If you need help, call Samaritans for free on 116 123.