This article originally appeared on the CMHA Calgary Balance Blog

The staff of Centre for Suicide Prevention participate as a team in Ride Don’t Hide because people who are suicidal do not want to die: they want the pain of living to end. But for people to feel comfortable seeking help for their mental health issues, we need to create a society where there is no mental health stigma, where people support one another by being present with each other, recognizing when someone is struggling, and reaching out to help.

Ride Don’t Hide is an amazing event because it brings hundreds of our community members together in recognition of the struggles that we all face at some time or another, and creates a catalyst for change by breaking down the barriers of stigma that surround mental health and suicide. This is especially important to our work, because while mental health is heavily stigmatized, suicide is even more so.

Misunderstanding, ignorance, and fear are at the root of stigma, so we work hard to educate people to understand the psychological pain that a suicidal person experiences, learn how to support them, and connect them to help. By breaking down the stigma surrounding suicide, we can all save lives.

As a branch of CMHA, we believe that mental health awareness in the community is vital. Most people who are suicidal will not see a doctor for their depression in the year leading up to their death, and that means that we in the community need to step up our game and look out for one another – you can be the light of hope for someone in your life. If you’re struggling with your mental health, help is always available! Whether that help comes from your parent, your co-worker, your neighbour, your doctor, or your local crisis centre, there is always someone willing to listen and give hope.

Another reason we love this event is because it is in itself a form of suicide prevention. Exercise is so good for our mental health; it increases serotonin and releases endorphins that keep our minds healthy. It is known to reduce moderate depression, and reduce anxiety and stress, too! Ride Don’t Hide is also a great event for bringing people together, and being part of a community is extremely important for our mental health. Researchers have found a direct connection between people who have a strong social network and a low occurrence of suicidal thoughts. When we maintain our mental health, we become resilient, and can direct the course of our lives, not to mention that we are much less likely to reach a point of suicidal crisis.

We encourage everyone to break down the stigma – we can save lives by talking about mental health and suicide!

Join our team as a rider, a virtual rider, or sponsor us! All proceeds from our team members and sponsors will come to Centre for Suicide Prevention.