TalkRadio host Iain Lee saves suicidal caller
Presenter kept overdosing man on line until emergency services found him
Radio host Iain Lee has been praised for helping to save the life of a suicidal man by keeping him on the phone live on air for 30 minutes so that emergency services could track him down.
The drama began when the man, whom The Guardian describes as “incoherent and slurring his words”, called into the talkRadio Late Night Alternative show on Wednesday. He told Lee he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, and was lying in the street near a nightclub in Plymouth after taking a potentially lethal cocktail of drugs.
As Lee’s producer rushed to contact the emergency services, the former I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here! contestant comforted the caller, who gave his name as Chris, The Times reports.
The man told the comedian that he “wanted to die”, to which Lee responded: “Shut up, man... I love you. You may want to die, but we can talk about that tomorrow.”
He continued: “Chris, I love you brother. You deserve better than this, right? Whatever has happened I promise you it can be sorted. I guarantee that whatever has happened it can be sorted out. It might not be easy, it might be painful, but it’s better than you doing this.”
The caller, who said he was 59 years old, fell silent for long stretches of the conversation, leading Lee to fear he had become unconscious.
After hearing mumbling on the line, Lee said: “Chris, you’re still alive! Thank Christ. Yes, brother. The whole country is punching the air. We lost you for about ten minutes, man.”
The late-night host helped work out where the caller was by asking him a series of questions, enabling police to identify the man’s location within around 30 minutes so that an ambulance could be sent there.
Tweeting after the incident, Lee said: “Tonight we took a call from a man who had taken an overdose. He was lying in a street in Plymouth, dying.
“We managed to keep him online, get a description of what he looked like and was wearing, work out where he was and send an ambulance and police to him.
“Kept him on the phone for 30 minutes while he got harder to understand. Long periods of silence where I thought he had died. F***, that was intense and upsetting.
“Thanks for your kind words. I really hope he makes it.”
Lee has been open about his own mental health struggles in the past, saying he suffered from suicidal thoughts while coming off antidepressants.
Devon and Cornwall Police confirmed late on Wednesday that the caller was alive and had been taken to Derriford Hospital Emergency Department for further treatment.
Inspector Kevin Morley tweeted to thank Lee for his help. Morley added: “This is a very typical call for us sadly and December is a hard month for many.
“We will do our best to direct him to long-term support. We all have a role to play in supporting those that are struggling.”