Black Dog Ride to visit Kingston

The Black Dog riders will be passing through Kingston on Sunday. 
-Photo by Shelley O Brien.
The Black Dog riders will be passing through Kingston on Sunday. -Photo by Shelley O Brien.

KINGSTON will be part of an effort to battle the "black dog" of depression this weekend.

Black Dog Ride, now in its sixth year, is a national suicide prevention charity whose mission is to raise awareness of depression and suicide prevention.

Funds raised by Black Dog Riders will support the roll out of Mental Health First Aid's Teen Program to Australian Schools nationwide, and to build the capacity of Lifeline's online Crisis Support Chat service.

Dozens of SA motorcycle riders will embark on an almost 2900km journey from the Adelaide Hills to Uluru as part of the annual Ride to the Red Centre tour, which departs from all states and territories and heads towards the natural landmark.

Starting in Woodside on Sunday, the SA riders will travel 460km to Mount Gambier passing through Meningie and stopping for lunch at the Kingston Lions shed around 1pm.

This year's ride is larger than ever before, with 500 Black Dog Riders across the country set to undertake the epic ride.

"Fostering awareness of depression and suicide prevention in communities is the best catalyst for prevention," Black Dog Ride founder Steve Andrews said.

After a series of unfortunate and heartbreaking events that affected his friendship group and family, Steve knew something needed to be done to combat the stigma and silence surrounding depression.

Five years ago, Steve found himself at the funeral of his best friend's wife whose life was cut short by a silent struggle with depression.

Standing at her wake, Steve felt the need to raise community awareness of depression and to create a national conversation so that people living with mental ill health feel able to talk about it and seek support.

Tragically, Steve's own mother had also taken her own life years earlier.

In 2009, Steve embarked upon a solo month-long motorbike journey around Australia, raising $34,000 for the Suicide Call Back Service and engaging thousands of Australians with his message of awareness.

With him on his ride Steve took a black dog soft toy, representing the black dog of depression Winston Churchill famously diarised. Steve called the dog Winston, and his tour the Black Dog Ride.

Only five short years after the inaugural Black Dog Ride, thousands of Australians have joined Steve on the road to raise awareness, and have raised over $1,800,000 for mental health services nationwide.

The SA Ride to the Red Centre will also pass through Naracoorte on Monday, and will also travel through towns including Loxton, Berri, Port Augusta and Coober Pedy on the way to Uluru.