A 28-year-old man who was saved from taking his own life is tomorrow embarking upon a 2,000 mile motorbike ride to thank MK's mental health services.
He aims to cover just under 2,000 miles in three days and all proceeds from his fundraising page will be given to the Central North West London Trust (CNWL) NHS Trust, which runs mental health services in Milton Keynes.
Luke, who lives in Olney, had suffered in silence from severe depression until 2018, when events forced him to seek help.
"I was drinking and abusing other substances to try to cover up how bad I felt," he said. "It didn't help, of course - in fact, it made it worse. Then one day it all got too much and I didn't fell my life was worth living at all.
Luke made his way to a bridge and was poised to jump.
"Looking back now, I think it was a cry for help. Luckily a man driving a black BMW spotted me and stopped to ask me if I was okay.
"He called the emergency services and they got me down. To this day, I don't know who that man in the BMW was, but I'm very thankful to him."
Luke was sectioned to the city's Campbell Centre mental health unit, where he stayed for six days. Here, for the first time, he met with mental health professionals and began a course of treatment and therapy.
Since then the CNWL mental health services have become part of his life, helping him through the bad times.
"I haven't touched alcohol or drugs since I was admitted to the unit," he said. "I've always managed to work and my life since has been filled with many highs and lows. I still have bad times - recently I suffered a relationship break up and that was a real setback. I've suffered from depression, anxiety and more recently I even started to self-harm. But the mental health teams are always there for me.
"I can call the crisis team if things get bad and they're great. I can go to therapy groups after work and recently I've been having the NHS Talking Therapies. It's like there's always someone there to listen and lift me up when I'm down.
"I've had dealings with MK hospital too, and they've been really good."
Luke, who is a warehouse worker, now feels he wants to give something back to the teams from CNWL who have helped him so much.
"I've always been a keen motorcyclist so I decided to do a sponsored motorcycle ride. I want to raise money to help CNWL help other people like myself see there's light at the end of the tunnel"
"If it wasn’t for CNWL I probably wouldn’t be here today," he said.
In England one in 4 people will suffer some kind of mental health problem each year. Many people, in particularly young males, are reluctant to seek help and admit they have a problem.
"I also want to raise awareness of mental health problems, particularly in men, who are often too embarrassed to get the help they need. Yet one in four people in England will suffer some kind of mental health problem each year. I want them to know the mental health teams are great and there's nothing to be worried about."
He deliberately chose to complete the ride in winter because riding in summer would be "too easy", he said.
"I want to really challenge myself!" he told the Citizen.
Luke, who hopes to raise thousands of pounds, launched his appeal earlier this year through Virgin Giving, But Virgin Money has since closed down the fundraising faciility, which was launched originally in parallel with Virgin Money’s sponsorship of the London Marathon.
"I have had to change my fundraising page to the JustGgiving website," said Luke. "I have raised over £2,500 and stated this on my new page."
You can view Luke's JustGiving page here.
Suicide is preventable and support is available, such as Samaritans’ helpline. When life is difficult, Samaritans are there – day or night, 365 days a year. You can call them for free on 116 123, email them at [email protected], or visit their website to find your nearest branch.