Motorcycling for a worthy cause

The roar of motorcycles will be heard for a good cause in Whyalla next Monday, August 19.

The cause is for the Black Dog Ride, raising awareness of depression and suicide prevention.

Forty people in total will be riding into the city arriving in Whyalla at about 12.15pm for lunch at the Aroma Cafe at UniSA, Nicholson Avenue.

Paul Whittenbury will be leading the pack on the day and said the event has a personal connection for all people on the ride.

"Everyone on the ride has some link with the cause, either having suffered depression, or has friends or family who have," Mr Whittenbury said.

"Many have lost a loved one to the illness."

Mr Whittenbury said for the riders this cause was always front and centre in their minds throughout the whole ride.

"We all talk about depression (and mental illness generally), in the same manner as any other medical condition," Mr Whittenbury said.

"We all want to remove the stigma associated with depression."

Mr Whittenbury's own experience with the disease is very personal.

"Thirteen years ago, my brother Ricky, committed suicide after suffering from depression," Mr Whittenbury said.

"I know first hand the affects that the illness causes so I decided to get on board the Black Dog Ride- a campaign which raises awareness of depression and suicide prevention.

"I am doing this ride because I think it's important to raise awareness in the community about depression, which for some results in suicide.

"I hope that by doing the ride I can get the message across that if you think you're suffering from depression, please ask for help from family, friends, your GP, anyone as long as you ask."

Mr Whittenbury also hopes to encourage people to consider the feelings of others and not be shy about asking something as simple as 'are you okay?' and for the answer "no, I think I need help" to be okay in society.

"The suicide rate in regional Australia is much higher than the average, so it is great that the ride stops at a lot of small towns and cities all across Australia to promote the cause," Mr Whittenbury said.

After Mr Whittenbury's first Black Dog Ride last year he put his hand up to be the South Australian coordinator for the SA leg of the ride this year which will leave on August 17.

"I have organised a new route to cover more towns, and reach areas that have not been involved in the Black Dog Ride before," Mr Whittenbury said.

The SA group has 12 people from the Eyre Peninsula participating in the ride.

The group has 10 "Lions Stops" on their ride.

They are starting with a Lion's breakfast at their send off at the Buffalo Restaurant carpark at Wigley Reserve, Glenelg.

"The Lions Clubs look after us at many places with morning tea's, lunches and dinners," Mr Whittenbury said.

"They are great supporters of our ride and are really interested in discussing the topic.

"We also get a lot of public coming up to us wanting to find out more, or giving a donation.

"The ride is long, and there is a lot of time spent alone in your helmet, but at each stop there are plenty of people to mix with."

The riders will be departing Aroma Cafe 1.30pm and Mr Whittenbury encourages people to come along.

"Don't be shy, we're all normal, everyday people," he said.

People can donate at http://www.everydayhero.com.au/event/redcentre2013

Mr Whittenbury said people can also support Lifeline.

RIDING FOR A CAUSE: Paul Whittenbury is riding to bring light to the issue of depression, mental illness and suicide as part of the Black Dog Ride and will be in Whyalla on Monday, August 19.

RIDING FOR A CAUSE: Paul Whittenbury is riding to bring light to the issue of depression, mental illness and suicide as part of the Black Dog Ride and will be in Whyalla on Monday, August 19.