A Lillington man whose father took his own life two years ago will be attempting a 100km run to raise awareness of male suicide.
Kris Cholmondeley, 36, will be taking on the Cotswold Way Challenge on Saturday June 30 after his father, David, committed suicide in November 2016 aged 62.
After David’s death, Kris researched the issue of male suicide and felt compelled to do something after realising how many men it affected.
He said: “I’d always cared about mental health, but I was staggered by the scale of the problem.
“Over 5,000 men take their own lives each year, and one in four suffer with their mental health.
“For a while I didn’t tell people how my dad died. But I started talking about it in the office, and people were actually relieved someone was talking about it. It was interesting how many people had been affected by suicide.
“I want this issue to be the next breast cancer - I think there’s a real appetite to combat this from everyone I’ve spoken to.”
In November 2017, exactly a year after David died, Kris launched a campaign called ‘Help a Mind’, designed to raise awareness and mental health issues and suicide prevention, as well as raise £20,000 for charity CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably).
The charity recently set up an art installation called Project 84, consisting of sculptures of 84 different men on top of a London building. The number of sculptures refers to how many men take their own lives each week.
Kris organised a charity ball in May which raised £11,000 towards his target for CALM, and he has been giving talks to trainee technicians at his workplace at car makers Citroen about mental health issues.
Now, Kris will run the 100km Cotswold Way challenge along with his friend James Browne, who has completed gruelling Iron Man triathlons himself.
Kris said: “I’ve run marathons before, but nothing on this scale. But I’ve run 1,000km in total in training.
“James will be doing it in support of me, which is great.
“I’ve told about 600 people I’m doing this, so I have to finish. When I’m training, I can struggle, but if I many people cheering me on, it gives me that extra boost.”
Although raising the money for CALM is important to Kris, his main goal is simply to get people talking and regularly asking people how they are feeling.
He said: “You don’t think it will happen to you. In every article you read about this, someone says: ‘we never saw it coming.’
“The key thing is it’s not visible - there’s never any signs. If you can be proactive, it’s much better than being reactive.”
Kris also hoped his run would inspire more people to take up exercise, which he says benefits mental health.