Words to the wise from the ‘man who jumped from a ferry’

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For the past 25 years Nick Ray has experienced a seemingly never-ending  cycle of feeling hopeless, falling into depression and ultimately experiencing suicidal thoughts.

On May 3 this year, his condition got so bad that he jumped from the MV Isle of Mull ferry, as it made its way from Craignure to Oban, in an attempt to end his own life.

The 56-year-old father of two now wants to help others by encouraging people suffering from mental health issues to seek help before they reach the stage he did.

He is doing this by speaking out and being open about his clinical depression via his website Life Afloat which contains his blog entitled, ‘The Man who Jumped from a Ferry’.

‘I do not want to sensationalise what I did in any way, I just want to offer an insight into my depression and hope it helps other people who have had similar experiences,’ he said.

Nick had grown accustomed to the continuous cycle of feeling fine, feeling worthless, going into depression and ultimately feeling suicidal over the past two decades .

Spells in and out of work, receiving therapy and spells in and out of various hospitals inevitably accompanied these stages. In May this year, everything came to a head.

‘I had experienced a few of what I call triggers. I felt so calm about it and made up my mind that I really wanted to commit suicide,’ revealed an emotional Nick when speaking to The Oban Times last week.

‘I spoke to Karen [his wife], the doctor and the community health nurse and I was put on stand-by at the hospital.

‘It was while Karen was collecting our tickets for the ferry that I decided I was going to do it. It was a bizarre situation – all of a sudden I felt really calm.

‘I decided to do it as we were going past Lismore lighthouse. I found a place where no one could see me and just jumped. I didn’t give it a second thought.’

Someone had spotted him, however, and three loud blasts of the boat’s horn alerted passengers to the situation. A full-scale rescue involving a rescue craft from the MV Clansman and Oban RNLI ensued.

‘As well as feeling anger and disappointed that my attempt hadn’t worked, I also felt a deep sense of shame that I had triggered off this massive rescue,’ said Nick, who had previously volunteered himself for Tobermory RNLI.

‘For the first month and a half of being in hospital, I just felt absolutely desperate.’

Four months on, however, and kayak adventurer Nick, who lives on Mull with his wife Karen and their dog Ziggy, now truly feels he has turned a corner thanks to the Lorn and Islands Community Mental Health Team, Succoth Ward in Lochgilphead and, of course, the love and support of his family and friends.

‘With their help, I have learned to separate depression, the illness, from what is the real me and that has been a major turning point,’ he said.

‘I think knowing I received such excellent care may help others seek this support.’