CALGARY (660 NEWS ) — On June 1, Skylar Roth-MacDonald will start the adventure of a lifetime. Running from Vancouver, British Columbia to St. John’s, Newfoundland, the 24-year-old from Calgary will be covering 7,036 kilometers to raise awareness for mental health.
“There’s a lot of reasons why, but the biggest reason is to create more awareness for mental health. Especially right now, I think anyone can relate to mental health struggles in one way or another. I know I can.”
Roth-MacDonald told 660 NEWS that he also has a personal reason for dedicating the cross-country to raising mental health awareness.
“I’ve lost two really good friends to suicide and I see the impact that leaves on a community,” said Roth-MacDonald. He adds it’s important to discuss our struggles.
“I know sometimes it’s a bit easier to open up when you see others do it.”
LISTEN: 660’s Devon Banfield spoke with Roth-MacDonald about his cross-Canada journey
According to Statistics Canada, in 2015 alone 4,405 Canadians died as a result of suicide. They also found that every day in Canada, 10 people die by suicide.
The Canadian Government reports several high risks groups for suicide attempts, including men and boys, who make up over 70 per cent of suicide deaths in people aged 15-64 years old and 80 per cent of those over 65.
The list also includes people incarcerated in federal prison, those who have lost someone to suicide, youth aged 15-24 years old, people living in Inuit regions, and people living in some First Nations and Metis communities.
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Roth-MacDonald told 660 NEWS that he is looking to inspire others through this feat.
“I’m quite literally showing people ‘take one step forward through the tough times and great things will continue to come’, even though we might be struggling right now.”
He also says he’s not worried about the trek, as he has overcome greater challenges in the past.
“I see quite a parallel between running across Canada and fighting my own battles with mental health,” he said.
He also has a secondary goal for the journey, raising $50,000 for the Canadian Mental Health Association. You can follow Roth-MacDonald’s journey, and make a donation on his website.
If you, or someone you know, is struggling with mental health issues the Canadian government has a list of help-lines for people across the country. Kids Help Phone also provides resources for children and youth Canada-wide.