A copy of an article which appeared in Riding On, the official magazine of the Ulysses Clubs of Australia.
Black Dog Ride
Raising awareness about depression around Australia
Following three life changing events, Ulyssian, Steve Andrews decided it was time to take action and try to make a difference in the world. Steve lost his mother and two dear friends to suicide brought on by depressive illnesses. He was overwhelmed by the feeling that he did not know enough about this silent epidemic that affects one million Australians every year. It is the third biggest health issue in the country behind heart disease and stroke.
Not only did there seem to be a general lack of awareness in the community but there was also a severe stigma attached to any mental illness. This meant that even if someone suspected they had depression, they were reluctant to talk about it with family, friends or a health professional, often because they feared they would be seen as weak.
Depression is not a weakness, it is an illness and effective treatments are available!
Steve decided to combine his passion for riding his motorbike and a long held dream of riding around Australia with a growing desire to raise awareness about depression in the community by riding around the country on Highway 1. With the support of the Lions Clubs of Australia, Rob Martin from Collective Support, some generous sponsors and also drawing inspiration from Jerry Farsoun of Over Down Under, Steve plans to reach out to people along the way and let them know they are not alone and it is ok to ask for help.
Steve also hopes to raise $75,000 to fund a Suicide Call Back Service telephone counsellor. One counsellor can take 1700 distress calls per year; which is about the same number of men who commit suicide each year in Australia. Many of these deaths are related to depression.
How can we fellow Ulysses members help?
There are many ways we can do our bit to make a difference! We can talk to our friends or family about how we are feeling and also be aware of those around us who may be displaying symptoms of depression. We can also be part of this amazing event by supporting Steve as he passes through or near your town. Just jump on your bike and ride along with him for a while on his journey. Remember, all money raised goes towards suicide prevention so hop on line now and donate or give as he goes by.
Do your bit now and join the fight. Look out for Steve as he rides his silver BMW around the country, starting from his hometown of Busselton W.A. on Sunday 26th July 2009.