Orangeville athlete’s love of running helps him to overcome suicide 

April 20, 2023   ·   1 Comments

Local runner raising money for MS while preparing for a sub-three-hour marathon

By Sam Odrowski

A local 23-year-old is using his athletic abilities to raise awareness and money for Multiple Sclerosis (MS) through the May50k virtual fitness challenge after overcoming significant obstacles in his personal life.

Orangeville resident Kristian Kupi, who’s running 10 to 21 kilometres per day, is currently in third place for most distance in the May50k, with 352 kilometres travelled since the start of April. The person in first place is currently at 537 kilometres, although the fundraiser is run, bike or swim. With Kupi strictly running, he’s disadvantaged against fellow competitors, but he told the Citizen his focus is on competing with himself and preparing for a sub-thee-hour marathon. 

“By being the best me and competing against myself, I go way further than looking at someone and saying, ‘oh, I need to get above him,'” Kupi said.

While he doesn’t have MS himself, he developed a neurological condition impacting the ears, eyes and brain called Visual Snow Syndrome (VSS) in October 2021. It causes ringing ears, static vision, sensitivity to light or darkness, hearing sensitivity, floaters, and vibrations in his vision. Kupi said he thinks MS and VSS are likely related. He’s had issues with his joints and nervous system since childhood.

Kupi has been to several hospitals and psychiatric facilities for the condition, but with it being rare and little known about its cause or treatment, he hasn’t been able to receive any professional help.

He’s part of an online community of about 1,500 people trying to find out how to lessen its impact and what’s causing it.

“There’s people that live functionally with it, and there’s people have been crippled by it,” said Kupi.

His VSS has become manageable through running, meditation, a healthy diet and improved mental health.

But last year, the VSS got to a point where he couldn’t read because of its severity, triggering the start of a suicidal depression.

Last November, Kupi began driving for Uber but found the overhead costs and time spent on accounting work to be very stressful.

After a few months, he wasn’t making enough money from Uber to cover the costs of his car, so he became broke, and that stress resulted in him not running for 20 days straight.

As someone whose mental health and overall well-being depends on physical activity, being inactive day after day snowballed into serious thoughts of suicide.

Due to Kupi’s declining mental health, his cousin Karen drove him to the Guelph General Hospital Emergency Department. During that drive, she asked him if she would get “the call” that he’s dead. He told her no – he would call her himself before doing anything. 

Three days later, on Feb. 15, Karen received Kupi’s call.

That morning he hiked to a forest along Wilouby Rd. in Caledon from Townline in Orangeville. Once he got there, he took several times the prescribed amount of his bipolar and nerve pain medication – 20,000 milligrams of Seroquel and 2,400 milligrams of Gabapentin. 

Kupi turned his phone off so it wouldn’t get pinged to his location after his call with Karen and removed his jacket to prevent dogs from tracking him before running a few kilometres into the forest. 

As he was sprinting up a hill, due to the high amount of prescription drugs he had taken beforehand, he says the ground began to feel like quicksand, and his body was giving out. Kupi said his vision began flashing orange and blue before passing out.

Kupi’s friends, family and emergency services managed to track his footsteps and locate his body after seven hours of searching.

He was found unconscious with hypothermia on a hill.

“When they found me, they put all their clothes on me, warmed me up, carried me down the hill, and they thought I was going to die,” Kupi said. “I had two hours left [to survive], and the paramedics came down the wrong way of the tracks so I had an hour left.”

Fortunately, he was taken to the hospital in time but spent the next four days in a coma, waking up on Feb. 19 with his grandfather holding his hand.

It took two more days to learn how to talk again. Once he could, Kupi shared his anger with the family members who helped save him, telling them he still didn’t want to be alive.

Over time, as people visited Kupi, he slowly realized that there might be something greater in the world he could be doing and that so many people wanted to see him succeed.

He told the Citizen he’s grateful he gave his cousin Karen a final call before attempting suicide, as it sparked the search for him and likely saved his life.

Yet, at the time, the suicidal feelings didn’t entirely subside after he left the hospital and by the end of March, he was back to planning his death. 

“I didn’t want to be at a hardware store in Orangeville because everybody knows me here, so I went to Brampton, and I got rope and I went out like 10 kilometres into the forest and hide it,” Kupi said about his plan to hang himself. 

On Saturday night (Apr. 1) at the Black Wolf Smokehouse in town, he told his friend Eric that he’d be “leaving” the following Monday.

“He was like, ‘what do you mean, you’re going to leave?’ And I said, well, I’m going to kill myself,” Kupi recalled.

His friend Eric tried to help by offering words of encouragement and advice.

The same night he had a lot of positive interactions with people at the bar and said he realized there was a potential for him to feel loved. Kupi began to think he was using suicide as a “cop out,” and those feelings stemmed from his inactivity. 

Running is one of the main things that helps Kupi’s VSS and overall mental health, so he started long-distance running again and learned about the May50k Challenge for MS.

Kupi’s been working with a coach and a trainer, helping him prepare to run a marathon in under three hours.

Returning to running has helped him tremendously, and his mental health is much better. He runs six and a half days a week now, is more sociable with friends, and has daily things to look forward to.

“Each day I’ve got better and better and better,” Kupi said.

“There’s no room for anxiety or depression on a run.”

He told the Citizen for the May50k, he plans on donating one dollar for every kilometre he runs, and anyone who would like to support his run can contribute at

He’s already collected $492 and ran 352 kilometres.

Kupi is part of a team for the May50k challenge called the Dream Chasers, and anyone is welcome to join by emailing him at

A Fitbit, Garmin, Apple Watch or Samsung Watch is used to track participants’ distance and is needed to take part in the challenge. Kupi said he’s offering Fitbits on a pay-what-you-can basis for anyone joining the team.

The May50k fundraiser runs until May 31.

Visit to register.

Readers Comments (1)

  1. Neetu says:

    Unfortunately running and the mental healthcare system failed him. RIP Kristian Kupi
    Thank you for writing this article about him, it gave him so much love and support at least for a little while.


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