Ben Johnson lost his wife, Christine, when she took her own life in May 2018. Since then, he’s been trying to get the discussion around suicide out of the shadows with a yearly fundraiser.
That tragedy led to Brewmaster Taproom Owner Marley Rall, who knows Johnson, wanting to put on a benefit to support his family. Johnson said he didn’t want to raise money for his family and was more interested in supporting a local group that helps address suicide and mental health.
“Selfishly, it’s so less people have to go through what I had to go through, and less selfishly, it’s to save people’s lives,” Johnson said.
The group quickly put together the first auction at Brewmaster’s last year and was able to raise $6,000 for Crisis Connections, formerly known as Crisis Clinic, with an emphasis on serving people in King County who are in physical, emotional or financial crisis. Johnson said it was great to see so many people come together, and hear stories of how suicide affected them.
Johnson said one example is people who are struggling with these issues are afraid to talk to others, and that it’s important to engage with others.
“It’s the 10th highest cause of death in the U.S., but you would never know that from the coverage it gets and how people talk about it,” Johnson said. “It’s the same with mental health, there’s a stigma. We just want to be loud about it and say: ‘Hey, this is not a weakness and there’s people who can help you.’”
The auction night is free to attend, $1 from every pint will go to Crisis Connections. Folks can also participate in a raffle from noon to 8 p.m. and a silent auction from 5 to 8 p.m.
This year he hopes to raise even more for Crisis Connections, and in honor of Christine. The event is from noon to 11 p.m. on Sept. 28, at Brewmaster’s Taproom. Johnson said they have it near Christine’s birthday each year, Oct. 1.
“We lost somebody very important to us, and it was very unexpected. It means so much for us to, in some way, turn this really awful experience, and have some kind of positive outcome from it,” he said.
Crisis Connections has a 24-hour helpline at 866-427-4747.