AskNowSaveLives: Jonny Benjamin

“I’ve been there, I’ve come really close to taking my own life and it’s such a horrible place to be, and no one should have to go through being in that headspace.”

Jonny Benjamin is an award-winning mental health campaigner, film producer, public speaker and author. When he was 20 he was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, a combination of schizophrenia and bipolar. He has spoken publicly about living with mental illness as well as given various interviews in order to help educate and break the stigma. He has also produced and presented documentaries on the subjects of mental health and suicide.

In 2016 Jonny launched a mental health programme for schools called ThinkWell, as well as starting his own mental health charity, Beyond. The charity is a grant-giving organisation that aims to provide mental health support to young people, their families and teachers. It is being led by a Youth Board, who together with Jonny, created the UK’s first mental health festival for schools and colleges in early 2021.

His second book titled ‘The Book of Hope’ is a collection of quotes, poems and stories by himself and others to inspire recovery and hope.

How are you feeling today?

Today I am feeling a mix of things. I woke up feeling really anxious. I’ve had a lot of anxiety here in my body, and you know through out the day it’s been like a wave, it’s been up and down really. But I’m here and I’m managing it.

What makes you happy?

Seeing my nieces happy. I’ve really missed playing with them during the lockdown, seeing them smile and laugh just automatically makes me really happy.

We all need support sometimes – where do you get yours?

I get my support in different ways. I have a psychiatrist, and a therapist that I see every week at the moment on Zoom, and I’m really lucky to have amazing family and friends that I get support from.

“I think we need to get more used to asking and talking about suicide. We need to get rid of the taboo.”

Why is preventing suicide important to you?

Preventing suicide is massively important to me. I’ve been there, I’ve come really close to taking my own life and it’s such a horrible place to be, and no one should have to go through being in that headspace. No one should have to go through it alone, you can’t do it alone, it’s too hard. I’ve been prevented from taking my own life by other people and everyone deserves that, where there’s someone there to be with you in your darkest hour, because it’s just so hard to do it on your own.

Why should I join the Ask Now Save Lives campaign?

We shouldn’t be afraid to ask that question, “Are you feeling suicidal?”, it’s something that causes a lot of shame and embarrassment and it really shouldn’t do. I think we need to get more used to asking and talking about suicide. We need to get rid of the taboo.