A BLAZE of bike riders streamed through the Hastings to raise awareness of the often hidden and silent grip depression and suicide has on the local community.
Some 140 motorbikes and their Black Dog Riders hit the roadways from Port Macquarie's Marina following the ocean road into Kew, past Wauchope, Beachwood and back again.
They demanded attention with their beeping horns, a powerful message, wide-grins and a ride leader in Grinspoon frontman Phil Jamieson.
And, managed to raise well above $2000 for Lifeline.
Local ride organiser Todd Paylor said it was all about creating conversation and supporting the bigger, nationwide event.
"Suicide and depression is such a hidden thing," he said. "This ride has been all about giving people an avenue to talk about it."
But just because these problems aren't always at the forefront of our minds, he said, does not downplay their significance.
Suicide is the leading cause of death in Australians under the age of 45, and estimates point to someone attempting to take their life every 10 minutes. While one in four Australians will experience a mental illness in any given year.
Like many other men in their forty's, Mr Paylor has experienced depression first hand. "But at the time, I didn't feel like I could talk to anyone about it," he said. "I kept it secret."
Only after under-going counselling and moving past the illness, did he recognise how many others were going through the same thing.
"I've seen a lot of mates go through it, I've seen people at work struggle. It just effects so many of us."
When he was a teenager, one of Mr Paylor's friends took his own life.
It is something, he said, which "has always played on" his mind.
Males represent a frightening over-representation in the figures, with up to 80 per cent of all suicides in Australia being by men.
"It's only in the past eight to 10 years, that we are starting to feel more comfortable about speaking about this," he said. "It's a must, that people can have someone to talk to, it's something we need to encourage."
Funds raised by the nationwide Black Dog Ride helped Lifeline, extend its online Crisis Support Chat service by four hours last year.
This has allowed them to reach an additional 2000 - mostly young and rural based Australians - in need of help every month.
If you need help call Lifeline on 13 11 14 at any time.
Anyone in Australia experiencing a personal crisis or thinking about suicide and feels more comfortable speaking online, can contact Lifeline at Crisis Support Chat (www.lifeline.org.au/crisischat) seven days a week from 8pm-4am.
Important to ask: Are you thinking of taking your own life?
- Suicide is the leading cause of death in Australians under the age of 45
- It is estimated that there is a suicide attempt every ten minutes in Australia
- 80 per cent of all suicides in Australia are by men
- Men in regional locations experience much higher rates of suicide than the national average
- One in five Australians will experience mental illness every year
- Mental illness is the leading cause of disability in Australia
- Depressive disorders are the most common identifiable risk factor for suicide
- Lifeline's Online Crisis Chat service reaches out to young and remotely located
Australians who are reluctant to seek help through traditional telephone crisis lines or face-to-face counsellors