The ultimate tragedy of depression

A simple, possibly mundane, email conversation between Steve Andrews and Black Dog Rider Dick Prisgrove in 2011 takes a tragic turn when Dick informs Steve that he can't make the 2011 Ride to the Red Centre. Tragically, Dick's son Aaron had taken his own life.

Black Dog Riders honoured the memory of Aaron Prisgrove at the Finke River waterhole in the Glen Helen Gorge in August 2011. Dick and Ella Prisgrove, who will be meeting with Black Dog Ride this August, have given us permission to publish the emails and video of the dedication of his son Aaron in hopes that awareness of depression and suicide prevention will help prevent other families having to face the journey that the Prisgrove family must walk every day.

This story was featured on ABC's 7:30 Report on Friday, 20th July 2012. You can access the 7:30 Report about the tragedy that struck the Prisgrove Family here.

Read the emails between Dick and Steve Andrews, and watch the video below of the dedication, by Black Dog Ride, of Aaron Prisgrove.

On Sun, June 26, 2011 Dick Prisgrove wrote:

Hi Steve,
I am presently (with a Mate), 'chewing the fat' as it were about undertaking this ride from Melbourne, and we are wondering about numbers who are planing to go to date? This info would be handy so that we might be able to work out our accom (availability), en route.

Cheers, Dick Prisgrove

On Sun, June 26, 2011 Steve Andrews wrote:

Hi Dick
Thanks for your interest in our Ride.

So far there are about 130 riders registered of which 22 are from Victoria. I believe hard accommodation is just about booked out at Glen Helen Resort and is close to booked out at Heavitree Gap (Alice Springs). My recommendation is that you call the various accommodation options detailed on the website and see what is available and what suits you.

Hope you and your mate can join us on August 21.


On Fri, Jul 29, 2011 Dick Prisgrove wrote:

Steve Good Morning,
Unfortunately I will not be able to participate in this years' ride with you all to Alice Springs as events of recent past are to raw for my dear Wife, my Family, and myself.

On the evening of the 12th July 2011 our Dear Son, Aaron was allowed to take his own life within a few hours of arriving at Graylands Hospital, Perth, W.A. where he was sent as an in-voluntary patient because on concerns for his safety at Royal Perth Hospital.

Aaron was born on the 18th July 1978 in Alice Springs and loved riding his Yamaha TRX and joining me and our Mates on the anual November Snowy Rides when work permitted. I miss him dearly!

So if you and your fellow riders could spare a thought for Aaron at the water hole in the Finke River while at Glen Helen a place where we once played, we would be grateful. Now having being personally touched by the ultimate tragidy of depression, the journey for for us has just begun.

Kind Regards,
Dick Prisgrove, Ulysses No: 15067

Waterhole at Glen Helen
Waterhole in the Finke River at Glen Helen Gorge, a popular play area for the young Aaron Prisgrove. Photo by L. Kuipers 1983

On Fri July 29, 2011 Steve Andrews wrote:

Hi Dick
I am so sad to hear your story. Even though I lost my Mum to suicide nearly 18 years ago, every time I hear of a tragic situation like yours it brings back very strong emotions. I won't say I know how you and your wife feel because I can't imagine the pain you must be suffering at losing your son.

I promise you that Aaron's loss will be acknowledged at the place where he played in better times, the water hole at Glen Helen.

Thank you for sharing this with me, it makes me even more determined than I am already to continue my mission and strive towards my dream that "one day every person who suffers from depression will feel emboldened enough and informed enough that they will seek help, and that they will receive the appropriate help".

My thoughts and warmest wishes are with you.


On Mon, August 29, 2011 Steve Andrews wrote:

Hi Dick
Hope you are doing ok mate.

You may have received an email from Dropbox and wondered what it was. It's something one of the guys on the Ride did to enable you to view some video of a ceremony we conducted at Glen Helen in honour of Aaron. I hope you can access it but if not please let me know and I'll get it on a disc to you.

There's a very good chance we'll do the Ride again next year so I hope you may join us so you can ride in his memory.

Cheers and warmest regards

Steve Andrews

On Mon, Aug 29, 2011 Dick Prisgrove wrote:

Good Evening Steve,
Thank you and I hope that you and the rest of the Guys had a really great and safe ride.

No, I haven't received and emails from 'Dropbox', but am so very grateful that someone has taken some images /video...this is really an extremely welcome surprise...thank you all so very much. Didn't see that coming!

Yes! I reckon there is a very good chance of doing the ride next year...I will certainly work towards it. Actually my Wife and I had planned to be in the Alice over June / July but other events prevented us from being there, given our circumstance with Aaron in mid July, perhaps it was for the best we were elsewhere at that time.

I (we, my Wife Ella is presently with a few girlfriends in Bali for a couple of weeks), are really looking forward to seeing what you Guys did at Glen Helen...things for me have been sort of OK as I have been pre-occupied with 'jumping-through-hoops' dealing with Estate and Coroner matters, Ella on the other hand has been suffering terribly to date, so hopefully the trip to Bali with close friends will help.

In the near future we hope to be getting together with Prof. McGorry to see if Aaron's case circumstance might be of interest in the work he and his Team are doing in hopefully preventing future deaths while in State Care. Aaron's girlfriend's Sister (, has very kindly offered to help to see how we can best both honour Aaron's memory and perhaps help in making a change.

Steve, we are so very grateful to what you have done and look forward in supporting your work in the future. Although for us our angst is focused against the Health Services in W.A. we both realize that the problems surrounding mental health in particular are nation wide, I was a Paramedic for 30 years, the last 23 working in metropolitan Melbourne. I am all to aware of the mountains that need to be climbed and really DO appreciated the work that people like you undertake...thank you.

Sincere Regards,

Dick and Ella Prisgrove

On Fri, Sep 2nd, Steve Andrews wrote:

Hi Dick
Sorry for the delay in getting this to you, unfortunately I'm not very clever at this sort of thing.

Hopefully the attachment will work for you and you can watch the dedication to Aaron which we conducted at Glen Helen. It's a big file and may take a while to download depending on your internet speed. Please let me know if it doesn't work and Ill send you a disc.

Warmest regards

Steve Andrews

On Mon, 5 Sep 2011 Dick Prisgrove wrote:

Steve, Good Morning...
Thank You very much not just for taking the trouble of making such an effort that evening for the reading but going to the trouble of getting it filmed and then sending it to us. We truley appreciate all this effort and more importantly, it helps us.

Thank you, your works do make a difference.

Sincere Regards,

Watch the Black Dog Ride dedication to Aaron Prisgrove at the Glen Helen waterhole in 2011:

Whilst this story via the written word hits us hard, it's all too real for the Prisgrove family and thousands of families around Australia touched by the tragedy of suicide. The message is clear: depression and suicide are indiscriminate and can hit anyone at anytime. Acknowledgment and destigmatisation of mental illess, and appropriate effective professional care are vital to prevent the tragedy of suicide.

To support Black Dog Ride's efforts in raising awareness of depression and suicide prevention, please donate here: or sign up for the Ride to the Red Centre here:

We encourage your thoughts and comments here