Registrations are now open for Cycle Against Suicide’s annual cycle, which will take place from 28 April – 7 May 2018 across Northern Ireland and Ireland.
Cycle Against Suicide is an initiative to raise awareness of the help and support networks that are available to people across Northern Ireland and Ireland that are battling depression, self-harm, at risk of suicide or those bereaved by suicide.
Representatives from NI suicide prevention and awareness charities including Lighthouse, Suicide Down to Zero, PIPS, Mindwise and Aware NI joined Cycle Against Suicide volunteers and the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Nuala McAllister at Belfast City Hall for the Northern Ireland launch of the initiative.
Speaking at the launch, Councillor McAllister said: “I’m delighted to give my support to this event which is so important in highlighting mental health issues, encouraging us all to speak up and ask for help and support when we need it. Too many lives are lost by suicide and families and loved ones are left devastated. It’s shocking to learn that here in Northern Ireland we have the highest rate of suicide in the UK – that’s something we all need to work hard at to address and to help break the cycle of suicide.”
Each year, Cycle Against Suicide brings together cyclists with different backgrounds and stories to help break the cycle of suicide. Since 2013, the event has seen over 15,000 cyclists take to the roads to help spread the message that ‘It’s OK not to feel OK; and It’s absolutely OK to ask for help’.
The 2018 cycle is the biggest and the best event yet and along its route, between the 29th April and the 3rd May, the cycle will pass through counties Armagh, Antrim, Down, Tyrone and Fermanagh. Stopping in numerous locations along the route, the cycle hopes to raise awareness of and break the cycle of suicide.
Those who wish to take part can choose to get involved by cycling the entire route of 750km, part of it, or even just a local leg of the route. Every participant counts and together with Cycle Against Suicide, every cyclist can make a difference.
Northern Ireland has the highest rate of suicide in the UK*. The latest regional figures on suicide revealed that more people have taken their own lives in Northern Ireland since the Good Friday agreement than were killed in political violence during the Troubles between 1969 and 1997**.
The power of the cycle and its message is something that brings families, communities, organisations, schools, individuals and cyclists of all abilities together with a common purpose of ending the cycle of suicide in Northern Ireland and Ireland today. Each year, Cycle Against Suicide aims to engage more and more communities to begin a conversation about mental health; about looking after ourselves and reaching out to each other.
CEO of Cycle Against Suicide, Caroline Lafferty commented: “We all know someone affected by mental illness. Even now stigma stops people from seeking help. It is due to stigma, fear and lack of understanding that many of us don’t talk about it.”
Speaking at the launch, Michaela Rafferty a youth worker in Belfast and Cycle Against Suicide Volunteer added:
“At Cycle Against Suicide we engage with schools, communities and organisations across the North and South of Ireland to promote positive mental health and challenge the stigma around talking about mental wellbeing. We have one simple message to promote “It’s ok not to feel ok; and it’s absolutely ok to ask for help.
“Mental health is an important aspect of everyone’s health, it should be cared for in the same way as our physical health. We cycle to show people they are not alone and that many people in their communities and across the island of Ireland care.
“The cycle connects individuals with local agencies who are doing incredible work in promoting positive mental well-being and offering support to those experiencing mental ill health. Cycle Against Suicide highlights the goodwill of ordinary people doing an extraordinary thing; be that jumping on a bike, opening your home or starting a conversation. These invaluable contributions really could save a life and create a society where we look after ourselves and reach out to each other.
“Keep an eye out for the sea of orange coming through our beautiful city on 30th April & 1st May as we cycle shoulder to shoulder to break the cycle of suicide. Get in touch to find out the many ways to involved – there is a role for everyone!”
Each year Cycle Against Suicide invites people get involved with the cycle whether as a cyclist, volunteer or as part of the homestay program. The Homestay Programme invites people based along the main stops of the cycle route to open up their homes to participants of the cycle providing them with a warm meal, a chance to freshen up and a bed for the night and volunteers for the program are welcome.
Cycle Against Suicide 2018 main cycle will take place from Saturday, 28 April – Monday, 7 May 2018. Register your support or interest in becoming part of the Homestay Program, volunteering or participating in the cycle at www.cycleagainstsuicide.com
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The 2018 Cycle Against Suicide Main Cycle takes place from April 28th to May 7th and will be visiting the following towns:
Start: Westmanstown Dublin morning of April 28th.
Navan 28th April
Newry 29th April
Belfast 30th April
Dungannon 1st May
Omagh 2nd May
Ballyshannon 3rd May
Ballina 4th May
Carrick on Shannon 5th May
Mullingar 6th May
Finish: Dublin May 7th
*According to a 2016 report by the Office for National Statistics
**Source: The Detail, based on an examination of 15 years of suicide data held by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) on suicide registration