Nick’s 5K run EVERY day in July to raise funds for suicide awareness after losing his father

A young man has raised almost £7,000 for suicide awareness and prevention by running 5 kilometres daily in July in memory of his father.

Nick Hennigan, 23, from Aberdeen, hopes his fundraising efforts will help reduce the stigma surrounding suicide and spark conversations around mental health after he lost his father, Chris, to suicide on December 26, 2020.

Hennigan, a part-time customer service assistant at Sainsbury’s, set up a donation page for CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably), which offers a free and anonymous helpline and webchat to anyone struggling.

He aims to get as many donations as possible to the organisation while documenting his daily run on his page, which he dedicated to his father in the form of a letter.

In the open letter to his late father, Hennigan writes:

“After all this time, it still feels surreal and I’ve found myself often searching for answers that will never come. This is the cruel reality of my life without you, but the one thing that gives me some form of solace is that you’re no longer battling the pain and noise that eventually overcame you.

“I’m truly sorry that I didn’t realise the extent to your unhappiness and struggles. I wish you felt able to open up to me about how you were feeling. In fact, I wish you had opened up to anybody to help ease that burden, and prompt the help you so clearly needed. I hope you realise how loved you were, how loved you still are, and the overwhelming support you would have received if only we had known. 

“It has been really tough, but I know that you would be so immensely proud of Mum, Olivia and I for all we have achieved: each achievement I view as an expansion to your legacy. As time goes on, they say things get easier, and there is truth to that. The inescapable truth is that I miss you. We all do.”

Hennigan – pictured above with his sister Olivia and their father the day before his death – explained: “[Suicide]’s a really hard thing to have to process and come to live with, but as I said in my page, I’ve accepted this as the reality of my life going forward.

“If there’s anything I can do to prevent this from being the reality of others, then that is what I’m doing to do.

“It’s about making sure that people are aware of [the support], and then hopefully creating an environment that they feel they can go to a safe space and open up about how they feel.”

Since starting his fundraiser, he has received donations from people in the US, Australia, European countries and the UK. He said he is humbled and overwhelmed by the support from friends and strangers who shared their stories.

He called the experience “bittersweet.”

He added: “As a result of someone taking their own life, we know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of that, and I say ‘we’ as a collective, for those who have been affected and left behind. It’s about helping others because we know what it’s like to go through.”

Aside from hitting his daily target, Hennigan is also talking with business leaders and government members to raise more awareness for his cause.

Hennigan was only a few days into his challenge when Paul Marks, the founder of Health Returns, a mental health awareness organisation, reached out to him to join him on a run along the Thames on July 3. Since then, Hennigan has met Kate Brights, the CEO of UMBRA International Group, and Jeremy Goring, CEO of Goring Hotel, Victoria.

While he doesn’t plan to extend his fundraising past July, Hennigan said he will continue running as he enjoys the mental health benefit of being in nature and running around the country.

You can visit Nick’s JustGiving page to donate, follow his challenge, and read his tribute letter to his father.

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