Cycle Against Suicide day 2.
Since my very first encounter with Cycle Against Suicide Nobber has gained almost mythical status, so much so, that I began to doubt its existence other than some fantastical place aka Lord of the rings. I can confirm that it truly exists and gave us a mighty welcome at our first sos beag today.
Today the cycling was a little more serious through the rolling roads of Meath and Monaghan and into Newry with a few torrential hail showers offering additional challenges.
We stopped in Carrickmacross for lunch in a school, on a Sunday, with students and teachers present voluntarily! Cycle Against Suicide can do this!
Our day began with Helen McEntee, Minister of State speaking of her father’s suicide while also a Minister of State. While in Carrickmacross we were introduced to Eva McCrystal. Eva is a world champion cyclist. She is the pilot of a tandem and is a world and European record holder, but that is not why she was there. Eva was wearing the uniform of An Garda Síochána, her day job, but that’s not why she was there. She told us her father died by suicide six months ago. Her tears told us that this trauma can hit anyone, anytime.She mentioned too her 13 colleagues who died by suicide last year. Maker or enforcer of law this tragedy doesn’t discriminate. Her presence showed us that none of us know what the other person is going through. Her desire to tell her story showed us that this enforcer of the law could do empathy and could reveal emotional vulnerability. Her message was not to assume that you won’t be listened to if you approach someone, especially an authority figure and above all never be afraid to ask if someone is feeling OK.
And our message, it’s OK not to feel OK and absolutely OK to ask for help was given impetus as we continued on our wet and sometimes weary, hilly way.
We are an eclectic bunch, young and old many of an age not usually associated with travelling the country by bike. We have our reasons. As Obama said in Chicago when hope was audacious, “our stories are singular but our destiny is shared”.
Our shared destiny, our audacious hope is to end the stigma, to bring light where darkness threatens to deliver hope of a society where it is truly OK not to feel OK and it is absolutely OK to ask for help and to ensure that help is available when and where it is needed.