health

Mental health campaigner opens up about almost taking his life – ‘It was a real battle’


Jonny Benjamin told of the time in 2008 when he tried to commit suicide: “I had given up completely, I did not see a way forward.” 20-years-old at the time, he was saved by a stranger who talked to him and made him “see another way”. Years later, he’s campaigning for men’s mental health awareness with a charity called HUMEN.

But that night, Jonny got approached by a stranger, who saved his life.

“I was obviously really lucky that this stranger came and stopped to talk to me and made me see another way,” said Jonny.

Once Jonny found himself in “a better place”, he found the stranger and their story was made into a Channel 4 documentary called ‘The Stranger on the Bridge’, raising awareness on mental health issues.

Jonny’s mental health started declining back when he was a teenager.

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Jonny said: “I really struggled in my teens when I was young. I didn’t talk about it properly.

“I didn’t get the help I needed when I did talk and it almost took my life when I was 20. It was a real battle.

“When I first asked for help, I was 17. And my doctor referred me to the child and adolescent mental health service.

“I had an assessment but there was this long waiting list. I waited and waited and waited and I gave up waiting, to be honest,” he added.

Later, he had a “breakdown” and was admitted to a hospital. “I really struggled being in the hospital,” he said.

Jonny added: “Everyone was so busy. You know, the staff are so busy and just didn’t have the time to give me.

“The thing with the stranger on the bridge was that it wasn’t easy to open up and talk.

“But he gave me that time, that space, that patience, that listening that I hadn’t had.

“He really, really listened and that was so key.”

Now, many years later, Jonny is taking medication, goes to therapy and uses HUMEN “as a space to talk and to be with other guys that go through similar things”.

He says that to tackle the mental health crisis, education and conversation are crucial.

Jonny explained: “We need to start that conversation early. And continue that conversation and make it okay to be vulnerable and to show emotion if you’re a boy.

“We need more awareness and more talk and more action. I think that’s key.

“Government politicians talk about mental health, which is good, but there’s just not enough action and things like funding.”

In case you’re struggling with mental health and need to speak to someone, you can call Samaritans on 116 123, 24 hours a day. The HUMEN Charity’s Rise Against Suicide Sunrise Walk will take place in major cities across the UK on 28 November 2021. Supporters can sign up and start fundraising now at Rise Against Suicide.





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