FOR the past two years, Chloe Woodward and her family have faced a living nightmare.
At 14, the Winshill girl was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress syndrome so severe she has been sectioned on several occasions after violently self-harming and trying to take her own life.
But last week she realised her suffering had not all been for nought, when just days before being discharged from section, she stopped a man from committing suicide by jumping from St Peter’s Bridge, after talking to him about her own experiences.
Chloe and her mum were driving along the bridge late at night, having dropped off a friend, when they spotted the man on the wrong side of the railings hanging over the water.
After shouting to her mum to stop the car, she shot out to go and speak to the man and try to talk him out of jumping. He said he had escaped from hospital after being admitted following an overdose, and he was terrified of being sectioned.
Chloe, 16, said: “I knew the look in his eyes. I knew he was going to kill himself.
“I showed him the scars on my arms and my feet and told him I was sectioned. I told him he couldn’t do this to himself. He was lovely. He had two children and so much to give.”
After talking to him for half an hour, during which they discussed medication and shared some of their past problems, she managed to get him in the car and eventually to Queen’s Hospital, where she told staff about his situation.
“I’ve concluded that if my life was saved to save his life, that is a life well spent. I genuinely think that if every time I have tried to kill myself – and it’s so many times – if I have saved him then that is all that matters,” she said.
Her mum Traci said: “I could not believe it. What was the chance of that happening? Something has made that happen.”
Chloe was home on four-day leave when she and her mum encountered the man on Monday.
Three days later, she was discharged from the Priory hospital in Birmingham, having received treatment which she says ‘changed her life’.
As a child, Chloe faced terrible bullying, and had a number of very traumatic experiences which led her to self-harm and turn to drink and drugs.
For months she tried to hide it from her parents, telling only her sister Heidi the pain which she was going through. It was only when a teacher spotted the scars on her arms that she was forced to reveal the extent of her troubles to her family.
The bright and hard-working teen was forced to drop out of school and deal with years of treatment.
She took several overdoses and, at times, had to be physically restrained to stop her from harming herself. She would even self-harm in her sleep, she said.
Chloe’s dad Steve said: “All we could ever do was support Chloe, love her and get her through it. It’s been very traumatic.”
Now, though, Chloe feels she has come out of the other side. She was discharged on Thursday – the same day as her sister Heidi collected good GCSE results – and she and her family are now trying to rebuild their lives.
Chloe said she would like to work in catering, as she loves baking and cooking, and she wants to sit some of the GCSEs she missed out on.
She is hoping to volunteer in schools to share her experiences and help others.
“What’s happened has made me a stronger person. I feel like I can make something of my life now. I’m so happy,” she said
“The fact I have managed to save someone’s life makes my life worth living even more so,” she added.