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7,500 cyclists, 123 towns, and two weeks: The brave participants of the Cycle Against Suicide

“The cycle is about getting the message out that ‘It’s ok not to be ok’ and it’s absolutely ok to ask for help”.

Source: Marie Lecoq/YouTube

FOR THOUSANDS OF cyclists, these are the most important two weeks of the year.

Earlier this week, the annual Cycle Against Suicide was launched outside RTE 2fm studios with over a thousand cyclists setting off from Dublin for the first leg of the cycle around the country.

Now in its second year, the charity event saw a increase in participants with 7,500 cyclists registered this year compared to 2,500 last year.

They are cycling over 1,400 kilometres, with an average of 100 km a day over the fortnight, visiting 123 towns and villages along the way through the 32 counties.

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Jim Breen, PulseLearning CEO and founder of Cycle Against Suicide, explained that the charity event was not a campaign to raise money or funds but was about raising awareness on mental illness and suicide.

“The cycle is about getting the message out that ‘It’s ok not to be ok’ and it’s absolutely ok to ask for help,” said Breen.

He explained that the charity event started after he took part in The Secret Millionaire programme on RTE in 2012:

Coming out of that programme there was an outpouring of love and of empathy but also people wanting to help break the cycle of suicide on our island.

“It’s ok not to be ok”

Men and women from all over the country are taking part in the event,  some in memory of loved ones they have lost through suicide or have been touched by mental illness through their friends and family, others to inform themselves about their own mental health.

George Folan from Naas came to the cycle with a group of friends on the launch day.  “We lost a good friend of ours 18 month ago” he explained. “So we all thought it would be a good idea to get involve in it”.

The group of friends has been meeting up every Sunday for the past six month to train for the cycle. “It keeps us all together,” said George.

Presenter Colm Hayes is also taking part in the Cycle and compared all the cyclists to an army meeting up after a war:

If you feel a little bit bad in the mind in the morning when you wake up and you need a little bit of help, treat it the same way as you would if you had a sore throat or a broken arm. You go to a doctor for that, you should do the same with your brain.

As the cyclists prepared to leave at the start of the cycle, doves were set free in memory of loved ones. Mick Ryan from console.ie said the free service was a way for family and friends to pay their respect for their loved ones they lost, wherever they are in the world.

Over 3,000 homes will open their doors to the cyclists and volunteers as part of Cycle Against Suicide Homestay programme, giving them a hot meal and a bed for the night.  Jim Breen said the Homestay programme and the Schools programme were critical elements of the Cycle Against Suicide as it brought their message into people’s homes.

Cycle Against Suicide is stopping in schools along the way and will meet with over 20 000 students as they travel around the country.

Participants can join the cycle for any of the legs they want or can get involved by volunteering or registering on the Homestays programme.


The cyclists left left Ennis in Clare this morning and are due to arrive in Tuam in Galway this evening on what is one of the longest legs of the cycle.

Column: ‘He was given a clean bill of health, walked out of the hospital and took his own life’ >

Read: Government is ‘ignoring suicide crisis’ says Pieta House founder > 

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