YESTERDAY’S Black Dog motorcycle ride from Penshurst to Koroit and Port Fairy was a deep emotional journey for many of the 96 participants touched by depression and suicide.
Some would not have been there but for the Lifeline telephone counselling service which helped them survive their darkest moments.
Participants from as far as Mount Gambier joined the south-west Victorian event which was part of a national initiative to raise funds for Lifeline’s suicide prevention services.
“Quite a few riders have personal stories on how suicide and depression has effected them, their families and friends,” said Chloe Brian, the Warrnambool-based community engagement officer for Lifeline South-West.
“Some donated extra money on top of their registration fee — they are alive today because they called the Lifeline 24-hour line and were able to receive help.
“We get them to a safe place.”
Many of the 80 riders and 16 pillions in the south-west run were carrying black stuffed toy dogs, called Winston, on their bikes.
When they called at the Koroit Swap Meet for morning tea more Winstons were distributed to entrants in the car show.
“Depression is an issue that affects so many people,” Ms Brian said.
“During the past two years Lifeline South West Vic responded to more than 8000 calls a year from people in extreme emotional distress.
“Every year 1200 calls to Lifeline are received from the south-west of Victoria.” More than $2500 was raised by Saturday’s event.
The Lifeline crisis support service is available on 13 11 14.