Man Runs Marathon With Stranger Who Talked Him Out Of Suicide

Jonny Benjamin

The London Marathon is an incredible feat of mental and physical human achievement. It is fitting, therefore, that two of this year’s biggest heroes were British mental health campaigner Jonny Benjamin MBE and Neil Laybourn – a stranger who, 10 years ago, talked Jonny down from jumping off of Waterloo Bridge.

Jonny, who was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, wanted to end his life. Neil met Jonny on the bridge that night, and convinced him that things “would get better”. The emergency services arrived within 25 minutes, and the two went their separate ways.

Eight years later, Jonny was able to track down Neil. The search for the stranger that had saved his life was turned into an award-winning documentary, ‘The Stranger On The Bridge’, which was broadcast on Channel 4 in 2015.

Speaking to the BBC, Jonny said: “I was in the worst place of my life and just thought it would never get better.

“I ran away from the hospital and I went to this bridge. I was on the edge and this stranger then appeared from nowhere and began talking to me. It sounds very simple but he said he believed in me and thought I would get better. That changed my mind about what I was about to do.”

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The pair ran on behalf of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s charity, Heads Together, and raised £30,000.

They finished the 26.2 mile marathon in five hours and 28 minutes.

“Admittedly, I haven’t done the training I needed for it,” Jonny told the Telegraph ahead of the race.

“It’s been a tough year so far with my relapse and going back into hospital, family illness, and most recently my Uncle and then Grandma passing away a few days ago. But I WILL complete the 26 miles! Even if I have to crawl some of the way!

“This feels like such an important moment for mental health. They’re calling this the world’s first ever #mentalhealthmarathon. It’s a privilege to be part of it.”

If you need to talk about any issues that might be seriuously affecting you, call the Samaritans any time of the day on 116 123, or drop them an email at [email protected]

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