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Forces pay respects to mental health campaigner

Police family pays tribute to a 'truly amazing and inspirational figure' who campaigned to improve awareness among police officers
Published - 09/05/2019 By - Harry Wise

A campaigner, whose depression spurred her to raise awareness about mental health among police officers, has died.

Northamptonshire Police staff member Liv Pontin died on Wednesday with police officers across the country paying their respects.

Ms Pontin had used her own personal struggles to support and educate officers about mental health.

In March 2017, Ms Pontin had intended to take her own life by jumping in front of a train. The driver of the train, Ashley John, who was only in his second day on the job, noticed her in distress.

He repeatedly sounded his own horn while entering the station. Mr John got off the commuter train and spoke to her for ten minutes, asking why she felt so low and persuading her not to commit suicide.

The pair reunited for the first time in January earlier this year at Bedford Station in an encounter that was filmed for BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire Show. 

After her attempted suicide, she worked to change police officers’ knowledge of mental health issues. She did extensive work with Surrey Police, including 15 face-to-face Q&A sessions with the force’s officers on the 2018 Vulnerability course. With Lancashire Constabulary, she contributed to its mental health course.

She maintained an active social media presence blogging about her mental health troubles and her 2017 suicide attempt in the hope of helping others with similar problems. She also wrote in detail about her struggles with an eating disorder. In February, she was commended by the Department for Transport for her work in raising awareness of suicide prevention.

 

 

Ms Pontin's former employers, Devon and Cornwall Police, paid tribute to Liv, calling her a “truly amazing and inspirational figure.” Northants Police, where she worked as a referrals officer on the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub, said she “will be missed by all those who worked for her.”  

 

Michael Brown, who blogs under the moniker Mental Health Cop, wrote: “She made many of us on the frontline understand perspectives we hadn’t previously considered and the very best tribute I think we can pay to this kind, quiet and gentle young woman is to make sure we give effect to the lessons she taught us and help fight for other vulnerable people we remain in a position to help and save.”

A crowdfunding page has been set up in her honour on the Just Giving website. The page’s fundraiser initially hoped to raise £500 to support her family, but at time of writing, donations have reached £3,775. To make a donation visit: Liv Pontin's page.

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