28th Sep 2021

Chaya holding her abseil certificate

The girl standing on the platform at Colindale station on a March morning in 2014 could have been waiting for a train like the millions of other commuters travelling across London that day. However she had a different reason for being there. 

Trigger warning – this post discusses suicidal feelings

 “Everything inside me wanted to die. I looked at the board and it said in 3 minutes the train would be there. 

“After I made the decision I was at peace – I knew in 3 minutes I would be dead.”

That girl was Chaya. Chaya was 24 years old when she made the decision to end her life.

She grew up in London and Manchester, in a religious household, her father was a Rabbi and she was one of 10 children. She was close to her family but had had a difficult few years. Sadly her mother had passed away in 2013 from cancer.  Chaya suffered from anorexia and bulimia and then a drug addiction. She had been in and out of treatment centres and recovery programs and was trying desperately to get better but in 2014 she relapsed. It was this that triggered her suicide attempt “I can’t live anymore. I can’t do this”.

She walked to the edge of the platform at Colindale and counted down the three minutes.

Three months later Chaya woke up in hospital.

What she didn’t know at the time was that when she jumped London’s Air Ambulance were also dispatched to her side. The team flew to Colindale station arriving soon after she had been injured. They found Chaya laying three carriages under the train and they quickly administered some very strong painkillers to her. Then working closely with other emergency service colleagues, Chaya was extricated rapidly but carefully to the platform where she could be assessed and treated. The team then proceeded to give Chaya a general anaesthetic for humanitarian reasons as well as in anticipation of the need for her to go to theatre as soon as she got to hospital. They also performed surgical procedures to both sides of her chest to treat what they suspected to be collapsed lungs. The team also sutured a wound that was on Chaya’s head and dressed her badly injured arm before ringing The Royal London Hospital to declare a code red. Chaya was then flown to hospital.

The right side of Chaya’s face, body and stomach took the impact.  Her injuries were numerous. She lost her right hand just above the wrist, severed her optic nerve, and is now blind in her right eye. She has a scar across her stomach - she was told that her internal organs had essentially fallen out of her body. She lost her teeth. Chaya was in a coma for weeks then faced many months and years of surgery and rehabilitation. For a long time she was in a wheelchair. 

Chaya abseils down Royal London HospitalIt has been a long journey which still isn’t over, but seven years on from the suicide attempt, Chaya has made remarkable steps towards recovery.  She now lives near Finchley Road in her own flat.  She has a boyfriend and a dog called Poppy. She is hoping to become a dog groomer. Soon she will be getting a bionic hand, made by OpenBionics, an incredible company developing affordable, assistive devices that enhance the human body.

In 2017 she fundraised for London’s Air Ambulance Charity and took part in our abseil. This year, she is doing it again. So far she has raised over £3,200 which will go towards a life-saving mission to give a patient another chance at life when every second counts.

Chaya’s dream now is to share her experience with others, particularly young people struggling with mental health to let them know that “they are not alone and suicide is not the answer”.

“I don’t have enough words to express my gratitude and love for London’s Air Ambulance Charity.  For someone who was so desperate to die, I have done a complete u-turn and now want to live.  That’s down to you guys”.

 

If you have been affected by Chaya’s story, or if you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, there is help available.

The Samaritans

Call: 116 123

SMS: Text SHOUT to 85258

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