Riders rally against suicide

GALLERY: Black Dog ride raises awareness of depression and suicide prevention

MOTORBIKE riders from across the state have rallied in support of suicide awareness.

About 200 riders travelled from Bendigo’s Chinese precinct to Puckapunyal on Sunday as part of the Black Dog Ride.

Organiser Ric Raftis said the name of the event came from Winston Churchill’s term for depression.

“It’s a really good atmosphere,” he said.

“People are all talking to one another.

“Bikies really are people who will get behind charities and even though some of these people are perceived as being really tough, they’re prepared to stand here and talk about suicide and depression.”

The riders joined participants from the Suicide Awareness Walk at the precinct for the first time.

Mr Raftis said strict security measures at the Puckapunyal army base had limited numbers.

“Registrations closed a week before the event,” he said.

“We probably would have had 400 riders, we had people calling all week looking to register for the ride.

“We want to create conversations with the riders about depression and suicide prevention as they’re both really important topics.”  

Army personnel were also a focus of the ride.

“The issues aren’t just in the civilian population, they’re right across the entire Australian population,” Mr Raftis said.

“Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is possibly one of the biggest legacies of the Afghanistan conflict.

“We want to raise the flag at the defence base and say, ‘you blokes could have problems too, we’d love to be talking about these issues if you have them'."

The ride was the second in Bendigo.

Mr Raftis said the national idea had started in 2009 and grown in popularity.

“It’s a really good event,” he said. 

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