According to latest Australian Bureau of Statistics figures, more than 3000 Australians lives were cut short by suicide in 2017; almost three times the national annual road toll.
This is one of the reasons a team of 18 amateur riders and Wellways staff left Wagga Wagga for a 5-day, 600km tour of the Murrumbidgee region of New South Wales for Mental Health Week (October 7 – 13). Their motivation was to spread the “Break the Cycle – Share the Journey” message and raise awareness of mental health issues, and particularly suicide.
The amateur riders hope their brand of mental health bicycle advocacy can help to create a suicide safe community throughout the Murrumbidgee region. “This is a huge personal challenge physically, but mental health is an issue we are all passionate about. Staying mentally healthy is particularly tough now that the drought has set in. So, we’re hitting the road to take our message out there,” Wellways regional manager Zoe Evans said.
“Our point is a simple one: it’s healthy to talk about how we really feel and our mental health. By having simple conversations, you can help break the cycle of behaviour and negative thinking. It’s also about seeking help to share that journey,” Ms Evans said.
Break the Cycle is supported through funding from Murrumbidgee Primary Health Network, under the Murrumbidgee Suicide Prevention Program. Melissa Neal CEO, Murrumbidgee Primary Health Network, said: “The Murrumbidgee region has a higher rate of suicides when compared to the (rest of NSW). It’s important that we continue to focus on initiatives that raise awareness and encourage conversations,” Ms Neal said.