Man Who Was Suicidal Races in Marathon With Stranger Who Talked Him Down From Bridge

Jonny Benjamin, 30, recalls meeting his partner for the London Marathon at the side of a bridge in 2008, when he nearly jumped.

It was the ultimate accomplishment for a British man crossing the finish line at the London Marathon, completing the race alongside his friend who rescued him when he tried to commit suicide years ago.

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Jonny Benjamin, 30, ran arm-in-arm with his race partner Neil Laybourn, 34, at the London Marathon Sunday morning.

Running for mental health charity Heads Together, the pair completed the race in 5 hours and 28 minutes, but for Benjamin, completing the race with the man who once saved his life was the most satisfying part about the marathon.

“We’ve had the most extraordinary journey from that day nine years ago when Neil stopped to talk to me on the bridge,” Benjamin told "To say we completed the London Marathon together really is the icing on the cake.”

Benjamin recalled meeting his race partner on the ledge of the Waterloo Bridge in 2008. He was battling schizophrenia at the time, and was contemplating jumping off the bridge.

As commuters rushed past Benjamin, Laybourn stopped and talked to the stranger, repeating the words, “It’ll get better.” After 25 minutes, he convinced the man to step back from the ledge.

The men were reunited years later after a viral social media campaign Benjamin held in 2014 in search of the “stranger on the bridge,” and eventually vowed to compete in the marathon together this year to continue their advocacy for mental health.

"We certainly didn't want to let down the royal family," Laybourn told, of Prince Harry, Prince William, and Kate Middleton of their candid interview with Heads Together to spread awareness about mental health. 

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While they had a strong start working toward race day, Benjamin told a relapse caused by personal circumstances sent him to the hospital in February and disrupted his training.

“So, running the 26.2 miles was really tough at times, but running it alongside Neil was so special,” he said. “It was an emotional day.”

To support their efforts in raising awareness for mental health, donate to their campaign.

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