A man who contemplated suicide seven times before turning his life around is taking on a running challenge to raise awareness of mental health problems.
Andrew Brown, from Sunderland, began suffering with mental health problems four years ago, following the death of his grandmother who he was very close to.
He found it difficult to speak about or address his problems and began to suffer in silence.
Last year, his life became so low that he attempted suicide seven times, not seeing a future for himself.
He spent a lot of time in hospital and his attempt at taking his own life shocked everyone who was close to him.
Thankfully, with the support of his loving family and friends, Andrew was able to turn his life around and sought help to combat his depression.
He now has a girlfriend, Robyn, and the couple are expecting a baby together.
Following his experiences, Andy decided he wanted to help beat the negative stigma surrounding mental health issues.
He decided to sign up to the Simplyhealth Great North 10k Gateshead, which takes place on Sunday, July 9, to raise awareness about young suicide and mental health problems.
Andy, 25, said: “Over the past few years I have suffered with mental health problems as my grandmother who lived with me for around 15 years passed away and I struggled to deal with the loss.
“It was a massive blow as myself and my brother cared for her and the mental pressure gradually began to build up for me when she died.
“I found it really hard to speak about my problems and so I suffered in silence.
“It got worse and last year, I was at the lowest point in my life.
“It resulted in me wanting to take my own life because it was the only way I could think of to end all of the negative thoughts in my head.
“I thought everyone would be better off without me as I just didn’t see a future for myself.
“I was admitted to hospital around nine times so I am extremely lucky to still be here.”
Andy will join over 5,000 people for the Simplyhealth Great North 10k.
A former support worker, he will be running for PAPYRUS, the charity that aims to prevent young suicide, after he credited running as helping him in his mental recovery.
He added: “I still battle with my mental health issues now but I have a lot more good days than bad.
“During my recovery I started running and found it helped me massively.
“When I go out for a run I have a really clear head and feel like I can forget all about life’s problems.
“I am living proof that things do change.
“I have a beautiful girlfriend with a baby on the way.
“I know there is still a stigma around mental health. People think they are weak for telling people and suffer in silence, but they should know that it’s OK not to be OK.”
Those wanting to support Andrew’s fund-raising should go to www.justgiving.com/fundraising/andrew-brown119.
There are limited entries available for the Simplyhealth Great North 10k by going to Greatrun.org/North10k.