PEI

Island woman thanks responders who stopped her from taking her own life

Tanya MacCallum is sharing her mental health story and thanking the responders who she says saved her life.

'It's people that take part in crisis intervention that make a difference'

Tanya MacCallum says she has a second chance to sustain a regime that would keep her mentally healthy. (Sarah MacMillan/CBC)

Tanya MacCallum is happy when she spends time with her horses. But this time last year, even her favourite activities weren't bringing her joy.

"I was isolating myself from friends and family," MacCallum said. "I wasn't really enjoying my time with my horses and my pets. It was more like a chore and not something that I loved to do any more. I stopped painting, I wasn't as productive with my writing."

MacCallum has been dealing with mental health issues for about 15 years — bipolar disorder, and more recently, a diagnosis of PTSD.

Despite treatment and medication, she says she reached a breaking point in May of 2017.

She decided to take her own life and drove to the Hillsborough Bridge in Charlottetown.

MacCallum is sharing her story to thank all the crisis intervention responders. (Sarah MacMillan/CBC)

She credits the quick action by several people as to why she's still here today.

A friend saw her late night post on social media saying goodbye and immediately called police.

'Second chance'

"So the first responders were on their way there as I was driving my car, pulling up, parking, and walking up to the guard rail. And in that meantime — so within minutes — there was a passerby who pulled over his vehicle. And he was just talking with me as I was walking up the bridge and when I jumped over the guardrail. And at that moment, the RCMP had pulled up. So if you look at minutes or even seconds, I would have been in that water."

MacCallum said the incident gave her a "second chance to learn that I could sustain a regimen that would keep me mentally healthy."

Eight months after that night on the bridge, MacCallum said she is the most mentally healthy she's been in years.

Tanya MacCullam says that working with horses has helped improve her mental health. (Sarah MacMillan/CBC)

MacCallum decided to share her story as other people post on social media for Bell Let's Talk day.

Bell donates money to mental health initiatives based on Canadians social media interactions, texts and phone calls on Jan. 31.

Ending the stigma

People are encouraged to end the stigma and talk about issues of mental health.

MacCallum wanted her story to be told with the purpose of thanking first responders.

"It is people that take part in crisis intervention that make a difference," MacCallum said. "It's the paramedics, firefighters, police officers, the bystanders that pull over to help — those are the people that save lives."

She also said she hopes her story will encourage people to say or do something if they ever think someone is in crisis.

With files from Sarah MacMillan

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