MOTORCYCLISTS will next month gather in Seymour to set off on the annual Black Dog Ride, bringing people together to raise awareness for depression and suicide prevention.

The Black Dog Ride is a not-for-profit charity and is host to a one day event held every year across Australia, attracting about 6000 people in each state to ride for a cause and create connections between people with similar stories. This year’s ride will be the third organised from Seymour.

Coordinator Peter Comte said a big part of the ride was about breaking a stigma.

“When people think of bikies it’s always tough and scary but we want to push for that stigma to be broken,” he said.

“It’s about getting bikies together to raise awareness for mental health issues and promoting discussion between people who are dealing with these issues or know people who are dealing with them.”

Seymour’s ride for 2022 will be on March 20 and start at the Royal Hotel before heading to Tallarook, Lancefield, through Romsey to Wallan, before joining the freeway and heading back up to Seymour.

The charity was founded by Steve Andrews in 2009 after learning of the sudden and unexpected loss of a close friend’s wife. Andrews wanted to raise awareness for depression and encourage discussion, combining the desire to help with his dream to ride around Australia to create the Black Dog Ride.

He set off from Busselton in Western Australia on the inaugural solo Black Dog Ride around Australia, raising $34,232 in 26 days and travelling more than 15,000km.

“We want people to be able to share personal stories and experiences,” Mr Comte said.

“Most people who attend the ride have experienced mental illness or have known people who are affected, some have even lost loved ones.

“It’s important that people make connections with others and know they can safely talk about it.

“If people are struggling, we want them to know that they don’t have to do it alone.”

Coordinator Kylie Comte said it was encouraging to see the connections that had come out of the ride so far.

“We saw a lot of connections made last year, especially between veterans,” she said.

“There have been a lot of veterans organising rides together, heading away interstate together to take part in other charity rides so it’s been really great to see that.”

The charity hopes to encourage interconnectedness, as well as provide referral lines for people who might not know where to start.

“We want people to be able to have listening and understanding ears to talk to about their issues and for them to know that there is a safe place where they can find help,” Ms Comte said.

Check-in and registration for the ride will begin at 9am on March 20. Registration for riders is $30 and $15 for a passenger. To register, visit events.humanitix.com/seymour-vic-black-dog-ride-1-dayer-2022. Registration will also be available on the day.

Further donations are always appreciated, with some local businesses already submitting donations.

For more information on Black Dog Ride, visit www.blackdogride.org.au.

Anyone who needs help can call Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636.