On January 14, 2008, Jonny Benjamin was considering jumping off Waterloo Bridge in London when a passing stranger, Neil Laybourn, talked him down.
The two men have since reunited and are now embarking on another journey together – running the London Marathon side-by-side.
On that day in 2008 Neil helped Jonny step back from the edge of despair by promising that “things can get better” and inviting him for coffee before they went their separate ways.
Jonny Benjamin made a documentary for Channel 4 about his mission to track down the man who talked him out of taking his life:
Now, almost a decade after their first meeting, Jonny and Neil will run 26.2 miles across London to raise money for mental health charity Heads Together.
Sounds like it might be a tough day for Jonny at least:
Admittedly, I haven’t done the training I needed for it. 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.
However, he sounds determined to finish the race for himself and all the charities they’re representing; “But i WILL complete the 26 miles! Even if I have to crawl some of the way!!”
At age 20 Jonny was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder which at his most desperate left him contemplating suicide on Waterloo Bridge.
Speaking to the Telegraph Neil said:
When I walked past Jonny that day on the bridge, there was a fraction of anything about mental health in the media
However, that lack of reporting has been changed, partially through the bravery of people like Jonny and Neil sharing their empowering and very human stories.
We're thrilled to feature in all the TV mags with several giving The 'Stranger on the Bridge' 5 stars!!!
Now, there is an article in the newspaper every single day. It’s like an awakening at the moment, and it’s so great to see that.
Sharing these stories and talking about our problems can help others to find hope and help in the darkest of moments.
If any of the issues in this story have affected you, please speak to someone before taking drastic action. You can call the Samaritans on 116 123.