One women's remarkable story of survival that's helping hundreds of others


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19-09-2011 07:51 PM



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19-09-2011 07:51 PM



19-09-2011 08:31 PM

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2011-09-19 19:51:07

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SALES, Leigh


JOHNSON, Natasha



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One women's remarkable story of survival that's helping hundreds of others -

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One women's remarkable story of survival that's helping hundreds of others

Broadcast: 19/09/2011

Reporter: Natasha Johnson

About 2200 Australians kill themselves each year. The great tragedy is that for most people a
suicidal crisis passes once they get help. But how do you convince someone who believes their life
is no longer worth living that things will get better? The family of Sydney woman Nellie Bishop,
who in 1923 jumped from the gap and survived, hope her remarkable story might do just that.


LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: Suicide is often a taboo subject, but the fact is, more than 2,000
Australians kill themselves each year. The great tragedy is that for most people, feeling suicidal
does pass if they get help. Nobody knows that better than the family of a Sydney woman who, in
1923, jumped from a Sydney cliff and survived. They're trying to convince others who think life's
no longer worth living that things can get better. Here's Natasha Johnson.

NATASHA JOHNSON, REPORTER: A drawcard for sightseers and a destination for those who've run out of
hope. The beautiful rugged cliffs at The Gap - at the entrance to Sydney Harbour - have long been a
notorious suicide spot. And it was here, on the 14 November 1923, a young Helen "Nellie" Bishop
came unbearably burdened. The the man she loved had returned from the First World War with injuries
which would prevent them from having the family she dreamed of.

BILL BRADBURY, NELLIE BISHOP'S GRANDSON: All she ever wanted was to have children. So she was left
in a little bit of a quandary. She loved this gentleman but couldn't have children.

NATASHA JOHNSON: At just 23 years old, all seemed lost. But luck intervened.

BILL BRADBURY: Within a millisecond of her jumping, a freak wave has come in from the ocean and
rolled in over the rocks below. So instead of hitting rocks, she has actually hit deep water - and
as a result of that, she has survived the fall.

NATASHA JOHNSON: Then, a second stroke of luck. Two Italian migrants, Vincenzo and Rosario Dimento
were fishing near and rode in to rescue her.

ARTHUR DIMENTO, VINCENZO DIMENTO'S GRANDSON: He heard a sort of a muffled sound and they looked up
and they could see someone floating down. They pulled her into the boat. And she was conscious. And
they rode around the headland. People organised ambulances and things like that and they just went
home. Ha ha! They just went home. Our fishing is finished, let's go home!

NATASHA JOHNSON: It was front-page news at the time. But family members have only known snippets of
the story, until now. Nearly 90 years after that fateful day at the Gap, Nellie Bishop's
grandchildren - Bill and George Bradbury - met Vincenzo Dimento's grandchildren - Arthur, Vince and
Angela - to fill in the blanks.

BILL BRADBURY: Without what happened back then, certainly the two of us and many more wouldn't be
standing here.

NATASHA JOHNSON: Bill and George Bradbury's father Bob unearthed the story years ago while
investigating the family history, and found newspaper articles - including an interview with Nellie
Bishop from her hospital bed.

BILL BRADBURY: "Everything was going against me and the whole world seemed wrong. They say I'm the
first one to survive a jump over The Gap. It seems that I am not meant to die yet".

NATASHA JOHNSON: Within a year of the lowest point in her life, Nellie Bishop met and married Lacey
Bradbury, a police officer. She went on to have eight children. Five sons followed their father
into the force, making ABC News headlines in 1960.

ABC REPORTER: Did you bring much influence to bear to persuade your five sons to join the force?

LACEY BRADBURY, SON OF NELLIE BISHOP: No, I didn't. I just explained the advantages to them.

NATASHA JOHNSON: One of Nellie's sons, Bob Bradbury, became the highest ranking detective in New
South Wales. And his two sons, Bill and George, also became boys in blue.

BILL BRADBURY: What you have in the photo here are three generations of police. It is amazing.

NATASHA JOHNSON: Nellie Bishop lived a long, loving and fulfilling life. Pictured here with her
eight adult children, she died of natural causes at the age of 88.

BILL BRADBURY: She had a strong will to live. Great personality. Very happy-go-lucky type of lady.
We all loved her.

NATASHA JOHNSON: In an ironic twist, her grandson Bill Bradbury became a police negotiator, who
often ended up at The Gap talking people out of taking their lives.

BILL BRADBURY: I was able to use that, draw inspiration from it, and indeed, paint the picture that
there is hope.

NATASHA JOHNSON: In the Dimento family the story was passed on to a teenage Arthur by an uncle when
they were fishing off The Gap. His cousins Angela and Vince knew only that their grandfather had
performed an act of bravery, recognised with a certificate that has hung in three generations of
family homes.

VINCE DIMENTO, VINCENZO DIMENTO'S GRANDSON: It was always there, not much discussed. But always
wondered about. I'm just so proud to be able to show it to you.

NATASHA JOHNSON: The certificate hanging in his hall sprang to mind when Vince Dimento happened to
read journalist Peter Fitzsimons's story about Nellie Bishop in the Sydney Morning Herald a few
weeks ago.

VINCE DIMENTO: And then I read that article, the date I just got up, yeah. Holy mackerel. I
couldn't believe it!

NATASHA JOHNSON: And that's how the Dimentos came to make contact with the Bradburies.

VINCE DIMENTO: I'm so pleased to meet Bill and George and the family. And to see the outcome and...
it's really wonderful. I can't believe it.

BILL BRADBURY: We'll certainly keep in touch. You know, because you just can't say thanks enough.

NATASHA JOHNSON: The article triggered the most poignant public response journalist Peter
Fitzsimons has had in 25 years. And he's campaigning for a plaque at The Gap telling Nellie's

PETER FITZSIMONS, JOURNALIST, SYDNEY MORNING HERALD: On this one, the reaction was phenomenal.
Deeply, deeply personal and emotional letters from people who'd lost loved ones to suicide, talking
about if only they could've known that story.

NATASHA JOHNSON: Suicide prevention service, Lifeline, says Nellie Bishop's experience is extremely
common - pointing to a study of 500 people who were saved from jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge
which showed 90 per cent of them went on to die of natural causes.

ALAN WOODWARD, LIFELINE: The problems that seemed so difficult at that time can be addressed, and
suicidality is not a lasting situation in their lives. So it's a message of real hope, I think.

NATASHA JOHNSON: Lifeline believes a plaque at The Gap may be counter-productive, but endorses
Nellie's family's desire to share her story widely in the hope of saving others.

RAY BRADBURY: People obviously just reach the absolute bowels of their tolerance, their desire,
their will to live. And it's actually breaking through that barrier of blackness to see that faint
little glimmer of hope that can set them on the right path.

LEIGH SALES: If you need help, or you're worried about somebody else, you can reach Lifeline on 131