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Radio Host Spent 'Intense' 27 Minutes on Call With Suicidal Man

The UK's Iain Lee kept 'Chris' on the line while emergency services scrambled to find him
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 21, 2018 7:33 AM CST
Nice job, Iain.   (Getty Images/jamesteohart)

(Newser) – For nearly half an hour, a British radio host kept a suicidal man on the line while rescuers tried to find him, an experience he now calls "intense and upsetting" and which has earned him praise as a "hero." Iain Lee, an ex-I'm a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here! contestant and now host of The Late Night Alternative on TalkRadio, found himself on Wednesday talking to "Chris," a man with slurred speech who said he was nearly 60, mired in depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, and in the street outside of a nightclub, thinking of taking his own life, the Guardian reports. "I ... want to die, Iain," Chris said to Lee, who at first thought the caller had a condition that was making him hard to understand. "We get some calls from people with Parkinson's disease, with MS, different things," the 45-year-old tells the Sunday Times. "I said, 'I can't understand you, mate.' And he said, 'I have taken an overdose.'"

Lee, who's talked openly about his own mental health struggles—right before the show he tweeted about how he was "dreading Christmas," per Sky News—went into motivator mode, encouraging Chris to keep talking so the show's producer could pinpoint his location. "Shut up, man," Lee said at one point, per the Guardian. "I know you want to die, brother, but I love you." During stretches of silence, Lee thought Chris had died. "This is horrendous," Lee could be heard saying when Chris didn't respond. After an excruciating 27 minutes, though, cops found Chris, and he was taken to the hospital; Lee burst into tears at hearing the news. "I don't know if I helped to save a life," Lee tells the Times. "But I do know there are a lot of lonely people out there and ... with Christmas coming up, the loneliness seems to worsen." (A meteorologist's suicide is being tied to LASIK.)

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