Jayne Higgins, Cycle Against Suicide Ambassador.
Jayne Higgins, Cycle Against Suicide Ambassador.

All Ireland Charity seeks cyclists – and beds

Irish Charity, Cycle Against Suicide, announced today (1st April 2015) that its annual all-Ireland Cycle Against Suicide bike ride is set to take off from Belfast for the first time this year.

This is the third year of the cycle, which will start in Belfast on Monday 27th April and takes in stops in Coleraine, Derry and Enniskillen, before heading to the southern tip of Ireland and finishing in Dublin on May 10th.

Established by Irish entrepreneur Jim Breen, Cycle Against Suicide is a charity which seeks to break the stigma associated with the open discussion of mental health, through the promotion of its message that ‘it’s ok not to feel ok; and it’s absolutely ok to ask for help’.

Cycle Against Suicide directs people in need throughout Ireland to where critical help is available.  It partners with local mental health organisations including NIAMH, the Northern Ireland Association for Mental Health, the province’s largest independent mental health charity.

NIAMH Chief Executive Peter McBride said, “The incidence of suicide in Northern Ireland has been steadily on the rise, with between 213 and 313 deaths every year for the last 10 years*. This is around five times the average number of road deaths in the province and yet mental health – and in particular suicide – is an issue which is still shrouded in stigma and is not something people feel they can talk about.

“This stigma makes it extremely hard to be open if you have lost a loved one to suicide, which in turn leads to an even greater burden of coping with what can often become “hidden” grief; even more importantly, for those suffering with severe depression and mental illness, it can be very hard knowing where to turn for help in your time of greatest need.

“Cycle Against Suicide do amazing work to break down these barriers, to remove the stigma and help people to understand that it’s ok not to feel ok – and it’s absolutely ok to ask for help.  NIAMH wholeheartedly supports this.”

Cycle Against Suicide founder Jim Breen said, “The tide has started to turn in the fight to break the stigma that surrounds mental health.

We must build on the momentum that is gathering, by letting every mother, father, son, brother, sister, friend and colleague know, that it’s ok not to feel ok; and it’s absolutely ok to ask for help.”

Commenting on the Belfast start, Jim said, “We have brought the Cycle to the North before and we’ve had tremendous support and a very warm welcome: Belfast was reported as one of the best legs in 2014, so we thought it fitting to start the event here this year.

“We encourage everyone to register now, for one leg or many. Together, shoulder to shoulder, we can break the cycle of suicide on the island of Ireland.”

Belfast Start Set for All-Ireland Cycle Against Suicide

Encouraging cyclists to get on their bikes and take part is only one call to action. Cycle Against Suicide is also looking for the Northern Ireland public’s support of its Homestay programme in conjunction with Homestay.com. This programme provides cyclists with a warm meal, a chance to freshen up, and a bed for the night. Research shows that this is as rewarding an experience for homeowners as it is for cyclists, bringing important conversations in from the Cycle to the home.

Homestay co-ordinator, Geraldine Johnston, said, “We’re looking for homeowners in Coleraine, Derry and Enniskillen, to offer accommodation to cyclists for one night as the Cycle passes through.”

“People who have opened up their homes to cyclists in previous years have said overwhelmingly, that the Homestay experience was just as rewarding for them as for their guests – I guess it goes back to the old values of our world-famous hospitality – we’ re natural hosts in this part of the world.”

“We’re expecting around 300 participants on each leg in Northern Ireland so we’ll need lots of help and as many spare beds as possible. There has been a terrific response from Homestay providers so far.  Of course we’ll also need lots of volunteers to help make our time in each location memorable, whether it’s sandwich makers, road marshals or just supporters at the roadside to cheer on our cyclists.”

If you can help with Homestay when Cycle Against Suicide comes to your town please send an email to homestays@cycleagainstsuicide.com.  If you would like to volunteer, contact volunteer@cycleagainstsuicide.com.  To register for any or all of the days in the two-week cycle, visit www.cycleagainstsuicide.com.

Belfast Start Set for All-Ireland Cycle Against Suicide
Katie Carr, Cycle Against Suicide bike ride participant; Jayne Higgins, Cycle Against Suicide Ambassador and Judith Savage, Niamh.



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