Survivor of multi-storey car park fall shares mental health struggle
- Credit: Steve Foyster
The day Steve Foyster decided to end his life is a moment in time that will forever remain etched in his memory.
On May 16, 1986, he made the heartbreaking decision to jump from the top of a multi-storey car park in Norwich – miraculously, he survived.
Now, 35 years later, the married father-of-two is about to publish an eye-opening account of that event and how it shaped him into the person he is today.
The 64-year-old, of Horsham-St-Faith, near the city, revealed how some people he has known for more than two decades will be learning about his journey with mental health for the very first time.
He said: “At that time, I felt pressure from so many different directions, such as at home and at work.
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“I felt like I could not cope with many things. It was very numbing, total blackness. I could not love anyone, not even myself.
“And the thing is, it could happen to anyone. Although problems can be rectified, in that moment in time when you get in that state of mind, it can become almost a compulsion to end things.
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“For me, I don’t remember falling but I do remember the landing.”
Mr Foyster was 29 years old at the time and had been working as a qualified bookseller for six weeks.
He sustained multiple injuries including a punctured lung, multiple fractures to his left ankle, a severed sciatic nerve in his leg, a compacted lung to a vertebra, and his pelvis was pulled five inches apart.
And despite spending eight months recovering in the former Mundesley Hospital, in north Norfolk, some of the injuries have continued to affect him to this day.
“At that time, I had not received much psychiatric help,” he added. “There just wasn’t that type of help back then.
“When I woke up, the first thing I saw was a huge bouquet from my work colleagues.
“I was then given psychiatric support and it was suggested that I tried keeping a journal to help.”
This was the first time Mr Foyster had put pen to paper about his struggles with mental health and it took him 60 hours of writing in longhand to get down what had happened. By 1987, he had written the first two parts of what would become his novel Cry to be Heard! My Road to Recovery.
“It was very cathartic to me at the time.
“I decided to push on with the book and I showed it to friends, having to photocopy pages of my own writing. And a few years ago, I shared it out at a book club I was part of.”
In 1991, he married his wife Mandy and together they had two sons. Then five years ago, he began sharing his experiences with others as a way of giving back to a wider community.
In 2019, Mr Foyster was able to pay for his medical notes and was surprised to discover his account of the trauma he suffered was accurate to the notes written by doctors and medical staff during his recovery.
Then, as lockdown struck in 2020, he decided to revisit his work again with the intention of getting it published, and contacted Norwich-based independent publisher, Paul Dickson.
“The book works through recovery from depression and suicidal feelings and actions, but is also filled with my humour, which helped me to get through a lot. My recovery changed when I had someone who listened to me.”
Mr Foyster, who works part-time for a mental health charity, explained that his book is about “both the mental and physical recovery as much as it is about a journey of hope”.
“I’m quite amazed to hold in my hand my book. It’s a massive milestone for me.
“I think I was fortunate I stayed alive. I’ve been able to reach out to hundreds and hundreds of people and maybe that was the reason I was kept alive – to give something back.”
The book launch for Cry to be Heard! My Road to Recovery takes place at 4.30pm on September 10, World Suicide Prevention Day, at Revelation Christian Bookshop in Norwich. To reserve a free place ring 01603 619731 or email email@example.com. A donation of £1 from the sale of every copy will be given to the charity Norfolk and Waveney Mind.
The book is published by Paul Dickson Book and more information can be found at www.pauldicksonbooks.co.uk.
To contact the Samaritans, call 116 123, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.samaritans.org
An extract from Cry to be Heard! My Road to Recovery:
"An ambulance arrived, bringing with it an amazing coincidence. One of the medics was Claude, my one new friend from the Methodist youth club. He had also been an infrequent customer at the shop where I had worked prior to my current job at Waterstones. He was totally shell-shocked to see me in this state. ‘My God, Stevie, what have you done?’ he cried, in a somewhat unprofessional manner.
"Both medics maneuvered me onto a stretcher and into the ambulance. I began to struggle. Maybe my subconscious was starting to realise that it had not worked; the adrenaline pumped back. Claude barked at me to keep still. I reluctantly complied. I was losing my grip. I started to cry. ‘I love you, Claude’ I blubbered. ‘Don’t be stupid, Stevie’ he responded. ‘I am too ugly’. Humour, our most precious gift, prevailed. We arrived at the ambulance bay at A & E whereupon I passed out."