Snohomish County man ran for 24 hours to bring awareness to mental health, suicide prevention

It may sound like a long road ahead, but this 24-hour journey serves a greater mission for one Snohomish County man.

On Saturday, Austin Johnson started a run for 24 hours to bring awareness to mental health struggles such as depression, anxiety, and suicide. Johnson said he took up running during one of the lowest points in his life. 

"I just wasn't satisfied inside and so I just started running and I found running to be a great metaphor for life every day especially... exact same thing in running," Johnson told Q13 News.

Along his run, he took to the Centennial Trailhead 2.5 mile trail loop at Lake Stevens. His 24-hour run began at 7 a.m. on Saturday and ended at 7 a.m. Sunday. Johnson only stopped for the occasional bathroom and food breaks.

Johnson spoke with Q13 News morning anchor Bill Wixey on Friday and shared his motivations for taking on this run and why he wanted to bring awareness to mental health. With the onset of the pandemic and rise in alcohol consumption and sales, depression and anxiety, he said he wanted to help others create awareness of what he called a "pandemic on mental health issues." 

"I knew and understand this, if you will, a pandemic of mental health issues, depression that people were facing. It just didn’t seem to be as on the forefront. And yet I knew people wanting to help, if only they were made more aware of it," said Johnson.

One way to bring awareness, and catch people's attention about the cause, was to run 24 hours he said.

"I thought if I could do some sort of physical event that, just the headline of running for 24 hours can grab someone’s attention, and maybe have them read the article and go ‘Hey, what’s this guy’s story?’ And then they see that I’m just trying to be vulnerable and share a little bit of my struggles that I’ve dealt with throughout my life with such as depression. I just knew there were people willing and wanting to help," said Johnson.

Johnson also started a GoFundMe page, called "Run For Your Life" with proceeds going toward the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. He set the total at $2,000 but quickly met that amount. So, he raised it to $3,000. As of Saturday afternoon, Johnson has reached over $20,000 in raised funds. 

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