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Riding for mental health

Tuesday, 6th August, 2019

Black Dog Ride organisers Graham ‘Bear’ and Nerolie Falconer with fellow rider John Ervin in Broken Hill yesterday.PICTURE: Emily Ferguson Black Dog Ride organisers Graham ‘Bear’ and Nerolie Falconer with fellow rider John Ervin in Broken Hill yesterday.PICTURE: Emily Ferguson

By Emily Ferguson

The NSW State Black Dog Ride made a stopover in Broken Hill yesterday. 

The riders started in Wagga Wagga on Sunday, stayed in Euston overnight and are due to leave the city this morning en route to Bourke.

Then it’s on to Narrabri and Texas before finishing up in Byron Bay. 

It’s in Byron Bay where they will meet up with the Around Australia Riders who began in Busselton, WA to ride all around Australia and back. 

It is 10 years since the first Black Dog Ride began with Steve Andrews doing a solo circumnavigation of Australia with the mission of raising awareness about depression. 

The ‘black dog’ is a well-recognised metaphor for depression and the Black Dog Ride’s mascot is named Winston after Winston Churchill, who famously wrote about being hounded by “the black dog of depression”. 

First-time ride coordinators, Graham ‘Bear’ and Nerolie Falconer have been partaking in state rides for the past five years and they are strong advocates for the cause. 

“It’s all about starting a conversation,” said Graham. “People see the bikes or Winston and they ask what we’re up to and we can tell them about the cause.

“The point is, there is always someone you can talk to, there is always someone who can help,” he said. 

“We lose eight people every day here in Australia to suicide and it’s not getting any better.

“You talk to friends and family of people who have lost someone to suicide and they say they never saw it coming and that’s because people hide it really well.”

The Black Dog Ride concludes people from all walks of life, from hairdressers to dentists and optometrists to defence force personnel and firefighters, 

“It doesn’t matter what walk of life you’re from, what breed of bike you have we have everyone join in,” said Graham.

The range of people involved is also quite spectacular with the oldest rider being 77 years old and another on their learner’s permit. 

“We try to stop in coffee shops and service stations as much as we can just to get people talking,” said Graham. “We need to start the conversation out here too, especially with the drought... so we this year we decided to come out bush.

“It’s about time we got rid of the attitude and stigma surrounding mental health, it’s not getting any better,” said Nerolie. “If we can just save one person per day on the ride we’re on it’s worth it. 

Anyone wishing to donate to the Black Dog Ride may do so on the website, www.blackdogride.com.au . If anyone has any worries or concerns or just wants someone to talk to, they may call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

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