A depressed man who almost jumped to his death from a multi-storey car park says he owes his life – to POKEMON GO.
Lifelong Pokemon fan Jack Kilbourn, 22, first started collecting the cartoon cards and playing the computer game when he was just three years old.
Since then, he has remained a lifelong fan and is even able to identify a Pokemon by the sound it makes.
In March this year Jack climbed to the top of a multi-storey car park of the Highcross shopping centre in Leicester and came “within seconds” of jumping off.
He was diagnosed with clinical depression and Jack was signed off from his job at River Island where he had worked for five years.
But after Nintendo launched Pokemon Go, Jack says his life has been turned around and he has even left his home for the first time in weeks in a bid to catch all the characters.
He now spends his time walking up to 13 miles-a-day, searching for the hidden digital creatures, and meeting and mixing with fellow gaming enthusiasts.
Since the game was launched in the UK earlier this month Jack has walked a staggering 120km (75 miles) around his home city of Leicester to catch the Pokemon.
Jack is hoping to inspire more mental health sufferers to follow in his footsteps and find something which they are passionate about and turn it into something positive.
Jack said: “I was a completely broken person.
“I used to sit at home letting my depression and anxiety consume me.
“I didn’t want to leave the house. I was trapped by my own thoughts. Once I spent two weeks inside my house because I was too anxious to go out.
“I had lost hope in the world and myself, and even considered taking my own life just a few months ago when I climbed to the top of the car park and thought about jumping.
“I sat on the edge with my legs crossed just thinking. I came within seconds of jumping off but something stopped me and I came down.
“I got diagnosed with depression and tried to find something to help me come out of myself. When Pokemon Go was released I downloaded the app and if forced me to get out.
“Before I knew it I was spending more and more time out of the house catching Pokemon. I’ve got 75 now out of a possible 150 and I want to catch them all.
“Pokemon has saved me. It has given me confidence and has improved my outlook completely.
“I’ve even gone back to the car park and shopping centre where I almost ended it and have caught Pokemon there. I feel like I’m beating my demons.
“For the first time in my life I’m starting to feel better again.
“I have been a die-hard fan 1997, and I know the Pokedex inside-out.
“My dad bought me Pokemon Blue when I was just three years old and the obsession started from then.
“Other kids like Fifa, I like Pokemon. It was my hobby and I’ve always enjoyed it.
“It’s been the one constant in my life.
“At first, I wanted to play Pokemon Go for fun, but now the game has a much more personal effect on me, and I want to create a movement now.
“I play Pokemon Go for up to 12 hours a day, and have caught over half of the Pokemon available.
“I’m currently up to level 20 and am almost onto level 21.
“I have a silver achievement which means I’ve walked over 120km so far, but that’s not including the times the servers have crashed and I’ve carried on walking.
“The more time I’m outside, the better, as when I’m at home I start to overthink and become consumed by my thoughts again.
“Pokemon Go gives me a release and I forget about all the bad things when I’m out searching for Pokemon.
“I went to the Town Hall Square fountain the other night at about 1am, and there were all these people just sat round playing Pokemon.
“I saw this guy and said, ‘hi mate’ and we started talking about the game – that’s what
I want to encourage other people to do, too.
“If other people are like me, I want to tell them about how much getting out and getting active has helped me.
“You don’t necessarily have to play Pokemon. Pick something that helps you and that you enjoy and just do it.
“It’s given me a new perspective on life. The game is so immersive and it really takes my mind off things.
“Every step I take in the game is helping me to walk further and further away from my safe place, which is my bedroom.
“I’m learning to go out of my comfort zone and I want other suffers to be able to do the same.
“This time two months ago I nearly jumped from the top of the Highcross car park.
“The other night I went back to the same spot to take a photo for Instagram – I didn’t tell people why, but I needed to do it for me – to remind myself just how far I’ve come.”
Jack has now launched a project called Hatch, Catch, Evolve which sees him document his journey to better mental health through Pokemon as a way of inspiring people to “get out and feel better”.
To find out more about Jack’s project, visit: https://www.instagram.com/hatchcatchevolve/