Tackling the ‘black dog’

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Samantha Bills is excited to ride her motorcycle for this year’s Black Dog Ride starting at Penrith Panthers. Photo: Melinda Jane

Hundreds of bikers are set to roll through Penrith for this year’s ‘Black Dog Ride 1 Dayer’ on March 19, to raise money for Lifeline Western Sydney.

Last year’s event saw just under 500 people riding to raise awareness of depression and suicide.

Riding this year is Penrith’s Samantha Bills, who finds the cause close to her heart.

“I lost two brothers to suicide back in the 1990s, five years apart. With both of them being males, neither of them spoke out. I hope we’re getting through that stigma now,” Ms Bills said.

“I suffer clinical depression and I need to look after myself, and let people know that it’s important that you don’t need to be at crisis point to access all the services out there.”

Suicide is the leading cause of death for Australians under 45-years-old, and Penrith Coordinator David Peach said the day is very meaningful for the community.

“Most of the people on the ride have been bitten by the black dog in some way in their life, everyone has a story to share,” he said.

“Today, in this country, eight people will take their life.

“Any other affliction that has people dying at this rate would be deemed a national crisis and get funding. It’s time we started calling it a crisis and dealing with it in those terms.”

This year’s motto is ‘we need to talk’, an idea that Ms Bills thinks is essential in reducing the stigma.

“Everyone will have an off day, but it’s when that off day becomes an off month that people need to start thinking there could be something more to this,” she said.

2017’s ride starts at Panthers and will end at Grey Gums Cafe on Putty Rd where there will be a band, safety displays from the Motorcycle Council of NSW, RMS and NSW Police plus trade displays from the motorcycle industry.

To encourage riders to register online, Indian Motorcycle have donated an Indian Scout valued at $19,995 to be raffled on the day. Online registrations close March 6 and can be made by visiting www.blackdogride.com.au.

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