Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Rochester cyclist on epic ride to save lives

The tragic loss of his son inspired Des Gallagher to ride from Hay to Canberra to raise awareness about suicide and mental health.

ELAINE COONEY April 9, 2014 3:10am

Des Gallagher prepares for a suicide awareness bike ride from Hay to Canberra. Photo: Elaine Cooney

Rochester resident Des Gallagher will ride from Hay to Canberra to raise awareness about suicide and mental health.

Last year Mr Gallagher joined the Community Action for Suicide Elimination group on part of the awareness ride from Rochester to Deniliquin.

Mr Gallagher is committed to raising the issue of suicide because he lost a son to suicide some years ago.

He said the group would go to Federal Parliament in Canberra to speak to politicians about the issue.

Mr Gallagher said the core issue that needed to be addressed was depression and believed more funding may help tackle the problem.

‘‘I went through depression and it’s not nice,’’ he said.

He believed men were cautious about opening up about the issue because society regarded them as the stronger gender.

‘‘In most cases, they can be as soft as anyone else,’’ he said.

He said there was a stigma around depression and some men did not want to be labelled a ‘‘sook’’.

‘‘Talking about it can relieve that pressure point,’’ he said.

He believed many farmers suffered in silence with depression due to increasing pressure from changeable weather and lack of financial support.

While Mr Gallagher was looking forward to the awareness campaign, he was also excited about the physical challenge of travelling 583km and the mateship with like-minded individuals.

He found the ride easy last year because of the number of stops on the way and said he was up to the challenge again this year.

Mr Gallagher has been preparing by going on long bike rides around Rochester.

He raised $900 from four Rochester business owners who he said were exceptionally generous.

‘‘One said to me: ‘If this saves one life it’s worth it’,’’ he said.

Mr Gallagher will travel to Hay on Friday night and, along with 12 other riders, begin the journey to Canberra on Saturday morning.

If you are feeling depressed or suicidal, phone Lifeline on 131114 or beyondblue on 1300224636.

Children aged under 16 can call the Kids Help Line on free-call 1800551800.

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