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Gordon McNeill's emotional tribute to officers who saved his life

Gordon's now a campaigner after rescue from the sea


Ballymena man Gordon McNeill in the village of Carnlough were he attempted to take his own life

Ballymena man Gordon McNeill in the village of Carnlough were he attempted to take his own life

Ballymena man Gordon McNeill in the village of Carnlough were he attempted to take his own life

A Northern Ireland man who was rescued from the sea by police after a dramatic attempt to die by suicide has thanked his heroes for risking their lives in an emotional online tribute.

Father-of-two Gordon McNeill (48), who has launched the Headstrong Life Campaign for a new state-of-the-art mental health hospital in Northern Ireland, made the YouTube video four years after he plunged into the sea along the Antrim Coast Road near Carnlough.

The Ballymena man said he has battled depression since a motorbike accident in 1989 led to a series of operations, leaving him in constant pain.

"In total I had five operations, the last of which led to me being given an artificial knee, but I have been told that I will be in pain for the rest of my life," he explained. "Depression reared its head, I was despondent, I wouldn't talk and was withdrawn. It took me to a place where I was considering suicide.

"Depression is a liar: it is the one illness that tells you that death is the best outcome."

On September 19, 2013, he drove to the Antrim Coast Road with the intention of ending his life.

"I hadn't slept for weeks with the pain, I was getting further and further down and I had lost the ability to think rationally," he continued.

"I was preparing to do it when a police car went past. My wife had reported me missing and they were on the lookout. As they rounded the corner they spotted me and I jumped over the sea wall and into the sea."

Despite the high tide and turbulent weather, Gordon says that a young male and female police officer risked their lives to save him from the water.

"The young male officer was wrestling with me in the sea, and the young female officer had a hold of him. I was asking them to let me die, but they were telling me not to do this, that I have a life.

"At that moment a switch flipped in my head: I realised that they were risking their lives for me, that my actions could end up taking the life of someone else's son or daughter.

"After they pulled me in I received mental health care, and I am still receiving counselling.

"I am alive today due to the actions of those young officers, and I feel that I have got to live my life in a way which repays their help.

"That's why I started the HeadStrong Life Campaign for a new purpose-built mental health hospital in Northern Ireland.

"There's still a stigma here over mental health, but we need to take it as seriously as the treatment of physical illnesses."

PSNI Superintendent Darrin Jones said: "Police officers are ordinary men and women who everyday are called upon to do extraordinary things.

"The two officers involved in saving Gordon that day have not sought plaudits or acclaim for their actions, and indeed to this day they wish to remain anonymous.

"They choose instead to focus on the job, doing their best every day to provide an excellent policing service to the public, along with their colleagues across Northern Ireland."

Belfast Telegraph