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Suicide attempt sparks unusual friendship in Cape Breton

Stacey Blackburn and Kody Quinn sit on the sofa in Blackburn’s living room. The two have become close friends after she stopped Quinn from jumping off the Seal Island Bridge on Dec. 20, 2015. 
NIKKI SULLIVAN – CAPE BRETON POST
Stacey Blackburn and Kody Quinn sit on the sofa in Blackburn’s living room. The two have become close friends after she stopped Quinn from jumping off the Seal Island Bridge on Dec. 20, 2015. NIKKI SULLIVAN – CAPE BRETON POST

SYDNEY, N.S.

He doesn’t really remember how he got to the Seal Island Bridge, over the railing and ready to jump on Dec. 20, 2015.

But Kody Quinn, 25, does remember leaning slightly over the edge and into the wind, which was so strong that day that it held him up. He also remembers feeling Stacey Blackburn’s arms wrapped around him from behind, hugging him into the railing while he tried to push off five or six times.

“I can remember the feeling of when a truck went on the bridge . . . but I couldn’t hear anyone,” he said, sitting in Blackburn’s Sydney living room with Stacey and her husband, Matt.

“I was just messed up for a while. I basically blacked out because I am afraid of heights. I wouldn’t just go and stand over that bridge like that.”

It was a Sunday and Quinn had left his sister’s house in Sydney before anyone woke. Blackburn and her family were going to Sackville, taking a route they normally wouldn’t have taken. When they reached the bridge, they saw a car sideways, blocking the road, and a transport truck pulled over.

At first they thought the bridge was closed because of the wind. Then Blackburn, who was driving, noticed Quinn on the bridge, looking ready to jump. Immediately, she told her husband to drive the kids away and went over to Quinn, wearing only a tank top and thin yoga sweater and shivering in the cold winter wind.

“I got behind him . . . I knew I wasn’t going over so I just kept saying, ‘come in closer and I’ll hug you and keep you warm,’” she said.

“I don’t know if the wind pushed him back or he heard me, but he came back, close enough that I could reach him. I just wrapped my arms right around his chest and waited for the police.”

Two other men went to Blackburn’s side to help her and Const. Fabian Kenny of the RCMP arrived 20 to 30 minutes later.

According to Blackburn, Kenny jumped over the railing and convinced Quinn to let them take him over the railing to safety.

“Once he started to lift his feet, I hauled him back up over the side,” she said.

“She was strong!” said Quinn, as Stacey and Matt joined him in laughter.

Quinn was taken to the police car and then to hospital where he was admitted for 48 hours. Before Quinn got in the car, Stacey had something to tell him.

“I stepped between Kody and the car. I couldn’t put him in there without saying, ‘I don’t even know you and I didn’t want that to happen to you, I’m going to hug you now,’” she said, referencing her journal where she wrote the incident down.

Stacey asked police if they could ask Quinn for his phone number so she could check on him after he got out of the hospital. Four days after the suicide attempt, on Dec. 24, the two met.

“I had a rough past. My mom passed away and my grandmother passed away, all in the same year. I went from having lots of support to having no support. It was tough,” Quinn said, explaining what led him to that day on the bridge.

Blackburn was also going through a rough patch. Her grandmother and a cousin had died that October, one week apart. Two weeks later, her husband’s grandmother died. She doesn’t think it was a coincidence she ended up at the Seal Island Bridge just when Quinn was about to jump.

“I wasn’t supposed to be there. I don’t (usually) go that way (to Halifax). We were half an hour late. I was literally put there,” said Blackburn, who received an award from the RCMP for her bravery.

“I don’t know if it was his mom who put me there or my cousin that put me there, whatever, but I think it was somebody who needed us both to be there.”

Now Quinn goes to the Blackburns’ home for tea and turns to Stacey when he is having problems. In turn, Quinn races stock cars and Blackburn and her family go to as many of his races as they can.

“I go to Stacey before anyone else. She’s just like family,” Quinn said.

“He said it the right way – he’s part of our family now,” said Blackburn.

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