Over 800 people die by suicide on the island of Ireland each year. That is 800 families and communities devastated; 800 lives cut short.
Cycle Against Suicide aims to affect change by beginning a conversation about mental health; spreading the message that ‘It’s OK not to feel OK; and it’s absolutely OK to ask for help’ into schools, businesses and communities throughout the island of Ireland.
Each year, cyclists of varying abilities, with different stories, and different “whys,” come together as part of Cycle Against Suicide to together, help break the cycle of suicide on the island of Ireland.
The now annual event has seen over 10,000 cyclists take to the roads, shoulder to shoulder, since 2013. During the 2016 main Cycle, the movement visited in excess of 28 towns, villages and communities across 15 counties with a combined population of 1.45 million.
This April, Cycle Against Suicide 2017, will pass through Dundalk. Organisers are encouraging locals to register for the cycle, www.cycleagainstsuicide.com/register , or volunteer to help with the event which will see up to 1,000 cyclists travel from Dublin to Castlewellan via Dundalk on Sunday 23rd April.
Each day during the Cycle, informative events will be hosted at various locations along the route. Speakers ranging from celebrities to mental health professionals will present at schools and other venues to signpost those in need to where they can access support services.
On Monday 24th April St Vincent’s Secondary School will hold a mental health event comprising of presentations, videos, music, celebrity guests, entertainment and an exhibition of local mental health services.
Central to the success of Cycle Against Suicide is the Homestay Programme. People throughout our island welcome participants of the event into their homes. Hosts provide cyclists with a warm meal, a chance to freshen up, and a bed for the night.
Feedback from Homestay hosts indicates that this experience has been extremely rewarding, as it allows hosts to lend support in a very tangible way.
Kitty and Jackie from Ennis, Homestay hosts in 2015, said “I heard about Cycle Against Suicide through the local Homestay Coordinator. Opening my door to total strangers was not something I had done in a long time.
“We hosted two lovely lads, and it was a joy to feed them and hear their tales. Before the evening meal was over, it felt like we were old friends opening up a conversation that was full of fun, and serious topics, in equal measure.
“The following day, we returned them to the group and said goodbye, feeling as though we were part of a movement of positivity, the like of which we hadn’t seen in ages. We have become familiar with the slogan ‘It’s OK not to feel OK; and it’s absolutely OK to ask for help.’ My husband and I are grateful for the chance to offer a little help.”
Cycle Against Suicide Local Homestay Coordinator, Ruth Donegan said: “There is still time for people to offer accommodation to participants for a night when the cycle passes through Dundalk. The number of cyclists registering for Cycle Against Suicide is increasing year on year.
"As a result, we need more accommodation for cyclists and crew. We are more than happy to avail of as many spare beds as possible. Of course, we’ll also need many volunteers to help make our time in Dundalk memorable.
Whether it is sandwich-makers, road marshals, or simply, people standing at the side of the road to cheer on the cycle, we can all play our part in breaking the cycle of suicide on the island of Ireland.”
If you would like to provide Homestay accommodation when Cycle Against Suicide visits Dundalk, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
The local Homestay Coordinator for home stays is Ruth Donegan , who can be contacted on 0894621163.
If you would like to volunteer with Cycle Against Suicide please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information see www.cycleagainstsuicide.com, where you can also register for some, or all, of the 14 days of the Cycle Against Suicide 2017.