Nova Scotia

Mark Henick uses social media to find the person who saved his life

A Toronto man originally from Cape Breton took to social media this week to find the person who saved him leaping off an overpass as a teenager in 2002.

In 2002, a stranger stopped Henick from leaping off an overpass

Mark Henick works for the Ontario division of the Canadian Mental Health Association. (Submitted by Mark Henick)

A Toronto man originally from Cape Breton took to social media this week to find the person who saved him from taking his own life as a teenager in 2002.

At the time, Mark Henick was struggling with depression and had tried to end his life several times.

Late one night, he walked to an overpass in his hometown of Sydney, N.S., with the intention of jumping.

"I was alone, I had planned this out already, I knew what I was going to do, and I had the emotional vulnerability at that time and [was] upset enough to actually try to follow through with it," he told CBC Nova Scotia's radio show Mainstreet.

He walked to the overpass, climbed over a railing and waited. While Henick stood there, a stranger came up behind him and started talking.

Emergency crews arrived on scene and a crowd of people gathered around, including one person who Henick says told him to jump.

Henick let go of the railing and started falling forward, but an arm reached around his chest and a hand grabbed the back of his shirt.

"That was really the moment that I realized that I could be that person. I could reach out and help people ... so that's what I do now," said Henick.

Henick went on to earn an arts degree from St. Thomas University in Fredericton and a master's degree from the Erikson Institute.

Now 27, Henick lives with his family in Toronto and works for the Ontario division of the Canadian Mental Health Association. He's also on the board of the Mental Health Commission of Canada and speaks professionally about mental health issues through the National Speakers Bureau.

A TED Talk he did two years ago has almost 1 million hits online.

Still, he'd never forgotten what almost happened on that overpass 13 years ago — or the man who pulled him from the edge.

Henick never saw his face, but remembered that he was wearing a light brown jacket.

Short search

On Thursday morning, Henick took to social media to try to find him. 

"I had been thinking about doing this for a while. I had even told people that, you know, if I find him, I don't know what I'm going to say. For some reason, it doesn't feel like thank you is enough," said Henick.

The search didn't last very long.

Henick said he found the man who saved him on Friday.

"Two separate people who knew him got in touch with me within a couple of hours actually, so I was surprised. I wasn't fully prepared yesterday that it would have that quick of a turnaround," said Henick.

The two haven't spoken, but as it turns out, the man he was looking for was also searching for him.

"Somebody told me that he came across the TED Talk that I did in 2013 … And he just saw it, apparently, for the first time within the last week or so. And he, with the help of some others I'm told, has been working on a letter to me," said Henick.

Although Henick says he doesn't think he's ready to have a conversation with the man yet, he will be soon, and he's looking forward to it.

"I'm looking forward to the closure that that's going to bring to this chapter of my life, and to the new chapter that’s going to begin," said Henick.


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