January 12, 2021 by Speakers' Spotlight
Mark Henick Releases Memoir, is Featured in People Magazine
Mental health advocate Mark Henick has just released his much-anticipated memoir, So-Called Normal. To coincide with the release, Mark’s been featured in People magazine, discussing his intense, emotional journey from the night where a stranger saved him on the edge of a bridge, to their reunion years later, to his present-day accomplishments.
First a quick summary of the pivotal night in Mark’s life: As a teenager in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, he was overwhelmed by depression and anxiety that led to a series of increasingly dangerous suicide attempts. One night, he climbed onto a bridge over an overpass and stood in the wind, clinging to a girder. Someone shouted, “Jump, you coward!” Another man, a stranger in a brown coat, talked to him quietly, calmly and with deep empathy. Just as Mark’s feet touched open air, the man in the brown coat encircled his chest and pulled him to safety.
In his new book, Mark details growing up in a broken home and the events that led to that fateful night on the bridge. It is a vivid and personal account of the mental health challenges he experienced in childhood and his subsequent journey toward healing and recovery. The People feature explains how Mark wasn’t even sure at first if the man who saved him was real or simply a figment of his imagination in a moment of immense stress. Then, after deciding to make a public call to try to find the good Samaritan, he was contacted by someone who knew the man in question – Mike Richey.
“It hit me so hard. If he had a name, it meant he was real, and if he was real, it meant my story was real,” Henick says. “I don’t think I believed myself fully until that point. Mike told me about the night on the bridge from his perspective. It was like watching my own story from a different camera angle and it felt so validating to be seen in that way.”
A few months later in 2015, Richey flew to Toronto, where Henick lives, and the two finally met.
“The first thing he did was wrap his arms around me, just like he did the last time we were together,” Henick says. “That was the only way we could reconnect, was to embrace again.”
In the piece, the two men talk about the joy they found in reconnecting and how their relationship has grown. Mark says he continues to strive to live his life as best he can, share his story and advocate for others’ needs to honour the bravery Mike showed during that singular night on the bridge.
With over six million views, Mark Henick’s TEDx talk, “Why We Choose Suicide,” is among the most watched in the world. His story of searching for “the man in the light brown jacket” who saved his life from a teenage suicide attempt captured global attention. Mark has dedicated his life from an early age to opening minds and creating change. His talks are informed by his direct experience with stigma and the mental health care system, and he brings his diverse and unique perspective to every audience as someone who has been a patient, a professional, a policy influencer, and a public figure in the mental health system.