Riders help banish the black dog

THE second Black Dog Ride through Gippsland on Sunday was declared a success by ride co-ordinator Laurie Park, with 140 motorcyclists enjoying perfect conditions while raising awareness of depression and suicide.

“We went from Sale to Maffra, but we took about 180km to get there,” Mr Park said.

After taking off from the Sale Clocktower, the ride went through Longford to Yarram, then across to Cowarr, through Seaton, Heyfield and Briagolong, before finishing at Maffra’s GVC Shed for a barbecue lunch.

The riders were supporting Lifeline Gippsland, and raised money through community groups, including a donation from the Longford Lions Club in memory of a close friend who passed away.

“If blokes who ride motorbikes start to talk about depression, suicide, and show their weak side, we’re really trying to encourage everyone else that it’s OK to talk about it, and seek help, and that’s OK,” Mr Park said.

“We’re all quite aware of the road toll, but the national suicide toll is actually twice the road toll.

“Everyone’s been affected by suicide, the same as everyone’s been affected by the road toll.”

Senator Ricky Muir joined the ride and addressed the crowd.

Mr Park said that while Lifeline takes more than 18,000 calls every year, the majority are from women.

“We need to convince the blokes to go to the doctor and seek help,” he said.

“If you’re worried about a friend, or family member, or work mate, just ask them, “are you OK?”, it’s OK to ask.”

A state-wide Black Dog Ride will be held in October. If you are concerned about yourself or others, phone Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit www.lifeline.org.au, or phone Mensline Australia on 1300 78 99 78 or visit www.mensline.org.au.