Jean Paul Attard didn’t know he would be stopping a man from committing suicide when he woke up to go to work one cold morning in Toronto last year – but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t ready. Having worked in the Toronto Transport Commission for over 23 years, he knew being prepared for anything is part of the job.
“In my 25 years of working with the TTC, I’ve saved 6 lives – and it hasn’t affected me,” Attard told Lovin Malta. Some could say the inspirational man, who regularly visits family in Malta when he has a chance, has dedicated his life to being prepared for these kinds of situations.
“I work out six days a week to handle my stress,” he says. “I eat very healthily, I don’t do drugs or drink, I surround myself with positive people, I do three hours of spa every day. I’m a health and wellness coach, and my story has become a huge inspiration to the world.”
His story has served as an inspiration around the world for those suffering with mental health issues
One Wednesday morning in Toronto’s underground subway station, a clearly agitated man ran by Attard, and jumped onto the train tracks. Without missing a beat, Attard told the janitor to cut the power off – it’s part of their training – and went straight to the man on the tracks.
“The customer was actually sitting on the track bed, so Attard immediately got him to stand up and walk towards him. He took his training and went above and beyond,” said a station manager who worked with him.
“He just kept on saying, ‘Don’t let go, keep on holding onto me.’ There was a point where he said, ‘Look me in the eyes, breathe in, breathe out. Calm down’,” Jeffrey Ribeiro, a witness who was on the scene, told Global News.
“He helped someone at what was clearly one of their lowest points”
Attard hugged the man close. After finding out the man wanted to hurt himself due to problems he was having with his girlfriend, he pulled out his phone, and starting taking pictures with the suicidal man, which led the man to laugh and even flash a peace sign during a picture.
The man held onto Attard throughout the whole ordeal. But it was the next thing he did that inspired the world.
“He had the man say, ‘I Am Strong’ more or less five to seven times and then he turned behind to where we were all standing and he’s like, ‘Everybody join in, let’s show him some support’,” Ribeiro said.
“It was like the city was behind him. We all began chanting, ‘I Am Strong, I Am Strong’ for several minutes. When the guy came up, Attard gave him a hug. Everyone started clapping, standing ovation. It restored my faith in humanity. He’s a hero.”
The story is going viral – but Attard just wants to help anyone with mental health issues to find support when they need it
He’s invited anyone who is suffering from mental health issues – be they in Canada, Malta, or anywhere in the world – to connect with him and find support when they need it.
“If you want to see more of my work, just punch in Rock Army on Facebook,” he said. “The group is for mental health and it’s growing quickly – and when you join the group, you become a part of the Rock Army family. My story is connecting out to many people all around the world; CEOs, producers, journalists and it’s getting bigger and bigger and bigger. Grazzi ħafna!”