Nova Scotia

Mark Henick finally meets Mike Richey, the man who saved his life 13 year ago

A Toronto man originally from Cape Breton finally got a chance to meet the person who saved him from taking his own life as a teen in 2002.

Mark Henick and Mike Richey reconnected after Henick made a plea on social media to find Richey

Mark Henick (left) was saved from suicide on a bridge in Sydney, N.S., in 2002 by Mike Richey. The two men met face to face on Thursday for the first time since that encounter 13 years ago. (Submitted by Mike Richey)

A Toronto man originally from Cape Breton finally got a chance to meet the person who saved him from taking his own life as a young teen in 2002.

Mark Henick was struggling with depression and had tried to end his life several times when he walked to an overpass in his hometown of Sydney, N.S., late one night with the intention of jumping.

"I was thinking that I'd be doing people a favour, that if I just let go and if I just jumped, that it would be saving people a lot of trouble and a lot of difficulty," Henick told CBC's Mainstreet

He walked to the overpass, climbed over a railing and waited.

But it was there that Mike Richey intervened — first by calmly talking to Henick from a distance, then slowly inching his way closer, and then finally putting his arm around Henick and pulling him to safety as he was falling forward.

Richey now works as a youth careworker in Halifax and says the incident had a huge impact on him. At the time, he did not have any experience working with youth in crisis.

"That's what I do currently for a living, but I was just starting my career as a youth careworker when I first met Mark on the bridge that night. It was just that I saw someone who needed help and I thought I would do what I could," said Richey.

He helped Henick to a waiting ambulance and then he was gone.

An appeal through social media

Henick, now 27, lives with his family in Toronto and works for the Ontario division of the Canadian Mental Health Association.

Back in January, he made an appeal on social media to track down Richey.

The only details Henick had to go on was that Richey was wearing a light brown jacket at the time.

The actual search for Richey took less than a day, but it wasn't until this week that the two were finally able to meet.

Richey says he happened to see Henick's TED Talk on suicide and was in the process of writing him a letter when he was told about the search.

"Listening to Mark speak [in his TED Talk] was like, all of a sudden, I was back on that overpass with him. And it was incredibly emotional to see him and where he's come in his life and what he's done with his life and not knowing all these years," said Richey.

Getting closure

The two men met in Toronto on Thursday for the first time since that 2002 encounter on the bridge..

Henick says he now feels he has some closure.

"To be able to actually experience this kind of closure has been incredible, and it's also going to be nice for me to be able to go back to talking about mental health and advocating for mental health, but have it not involve me any more," he said.

Richey says when he met with Henick yesterday, he just wanted to give him a hug.

"It wasn't about words or anything like that," said Richey. "It felt good, because if I could have went back in time and given that young boy a hug when he needed it, that would have been awesome. But I still got to do it at the end of the day."


Zak Markan is a CBC journalist based in Halifax. You can often hear him on Information Morning.


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