A costumed character at Disney World was visiting with Guests during a scheduled meet-and-greet at Magic Kingdom when she sprang into action, saving the life of a male Guest in the process.
A young man and his friends were visiting Disney World shortly after he returned from a non-combat deployment with the U. S. Armed Forces. The group of friends visited Universal Studios and the Disney World Resort during the multi-day trip. Though they were at visiting two places known for fun, entertainment, and magical memories, the man says on the inside, he was desperately struggling, and no one was the wiser.
“My friends and I decided to go to Disney World and Universal to have some fun as I just got back,” he wrote on the social media platform. “Kinda celebrate coming home, but it was more to just have fun together. However, at this time, no one in my life knew I was extremely suicidal.”
He says he did everything he could to mask his feelings and keep them to himself. But he was in a bad place from a mental and emotional standpoint.
“The thoughts, the anxiety, the depression,” he wrote, “the plans to do it. All of it, and I masked it all as best I could.”
The Guest says that during the entire trip with his friends, he did his best to hide what he was feeling, to hide the thoughts he was having. It was important to him to make sure that everyone else in the group was having a good time. But while on the trip, he came to a point where he just couldn’t mask his feelings anymore.
“I couldn’t shake the depression [and] suicidal thoughts and even the plans to do it,” he said.
On the final day of their Disney World trip, the man and his friends decided to stand in line to see Tinker Bell for a Guest meet-and-greet. By this time, his friends knew he was struggling, and they encouraged him to join them for the experience and have photos made with Tink.
“[They] egged me on to get a picture with her to cheer me up,” he said. “Throughout that day, I believe I had a few teary-eyed moments by myself, and I was visibly depressed. I honestly probably had red puffy eyes, too.”
Though he was struggling, he agreed to say hello to Tinker Bell and pose for photos with her, but he couldn’t have known that his life was about to change, and things were about to start looking up for him.
“I don’t know if Tinker Bell knew I was depressed, or it was something I or a friend said, or [if] she just gives cheek kisses every now and then,” he explained, “but she gave me an unexpected smooch on the cheek, and I proceeded to light up like a Christmas tree. To me, it was just the act of unexpected generosity, kindness, and affection from a complete stranger that made me feel like the lingering gray cloud disappeared, even if it was for a brief passing moment.”
The Guest captioned his photos with Tinker Bell online with these words:
“So I’ve been suffering from depression lately, and I went to Walt Disney World for the first time in my life. Thank you, Tink, you really made me smile the hardest in a long time.”
The week after he returned home from the group trip to Universal Studios and Disney World, the man says he reached out, made a call, and scheduled his first therapy session. Though he thought his magical experience with Tinker Bell only helped temporarily on that very difficult day at Disney World, he discovered that it gave him the motivation and encouragement to take ask for the help he needed. And in the days and months following that encounter with Tink, things began to fall into place, and he began to heal.
“Because of it all, I got the professional help I needed [and] got on meds that help,” he said.
But that’s not all.
“I [also] met my girlfriend (now my wife), got a bunch of pets to love, bought a house, and just overall made a better life of myself,” he said. “My suicidal thoughts, ideations, plans are behind me, although the thoughts do still pop up every now and then. But they’re not as bad as they were.”
For this Guest, the magical encounter with Tinker Bell that October day at Disney World was so much more than just a chance meeting with a beloved Disney character. It was the beginning of a second chance at life.
“That actress, her brief moment, just in passing, helped me,” he said. “She unknowingly saved my life.”
“I keep this picture on my refrigerator door,” he explained, “and sometimes it brings a smile to me when I need it most. My wife also loves this picture because she knows the story behind it. She also thanks this Tinker Bell for saving my life.”
A greater awareness of the need for mental health care is paramount in getting help to those who need it most. Those who need help should have open access to it–access free of stigmatization and judgment. Suicide need not be a “taboo” topic, especially since a majority of those struggling with suicidal thoughts also suffer from severe depression and battle feelings of loneliness and isolation. Normalizing conversations about suicide, suicidal ideation and thoughts, and depression can open the door where help and healing can begin.
We’re so thankful that this young man found the strength and courage to reach out and get the help he needed.
If you or someone you care about is struggling with depression or thoughts of suicide, there is help. You don’t have to suffer, and you don’t have to do this alone. There is hope at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The crisis center provides free and confidential emotional support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to civilians and veterans. Please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to 741-741 (Crisis Text Line). As of July 2022, those searching for help can also dial 988 to be relayed to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.