THE Black Dog Ride and SPAN join forces this year to raise awareness of depression and support those who have lost a loved one to suicide.
Bendigo’s third Suicide Prevention Awareness Network (SPAN) walk is on March 23.
For the first time, the SPAN walk will be joined by motorcyclists in the national Black Dog Ride, which has been raising awareness of mental health and suicide since 2009.
Bendigo SPAN walk organiser Alannah McGregor said tolerance was important for building community.
“It’s good to have different people with different lifestyles to get together,” she said.
“It’s about accepting each other for what you are.”
Co-ordinator of the Black Dog Ride One Dayer from Bendigo, Ric Raftis of Wedderburn, said the two events' messages were similar and it made sense to combine their efforts.
The Bendigo ride will go to the Puckapunyal army base to show support for army personnel who suffered post traumatic stress disorder.
“We hope the Black Dog Ride will help promote conversations in both the civilian and the service communities,” he said.
"Suicide is a bigger killer than the road toll but no-one wants to talk about it.”
Previous rides had been fantastic for people to share and talk, he said.
Suicide is a bigger killer than the road toll but no-one wants to talk about it.Ric Raftis
Mrs McGregor said suicide differed from other deaths because of the stigma and isolation attached.
“There is a lot of guilt and blame involved when someone takes their life,” she said.
“The walk is to raise awareness of depression and hopefully prevention of suicide. But it’s also support for people who have lost a loved one so they don’t feel so isolated.”
SPAN walkers often found the stigma disappeared as they shared their feelings with others with similar experiences.
Mrs McGregor said there were great services like Lifeline, Suicide Call Back and Headspace. But sometimes people needed help to get help.
“Sometimes that help is hard to find when you need it, and you need to ask someone else to get that help…to ask them to come with you to the doctor, or to make a phone call.”
The SPAN Walk and Black Dog Ride events are at the Dai Gum San Chinese Precinct from 9.30am. Registrations are not needed for the SPAN walk but the Black Dog Ride needs a full list of motorcyclists by midnight this Sunday, March 16.
To register for the Black Dog Ride go to www.blackdogride.com.au