The biker community in Brown County hit the road on Sunday for the ninth annual Suicide Prevention Ride.
The event raises an average of $4,000 every year for the Crisis Center for Family Services of Northeast Wisconsin. Participants registered for the event then rode their motorcycles from Suamico to Suring, then Green Bay, and then back to Suamico.
“We have crisis counselors available 24/7.” Tana Koss, division director of the Crisis Center, said. “They’re able to provide support to any community member feeling suicidal over the phone or in person anywhere in Brown County.”
Jeanne Parrett, who started the event nine years ago, said organizing the ride every year adds meaning to why she gets on her motorcycle.
“I’ve lost a lot of people,” Parrett said. “I have a numerous amount of friends and family members that have committed suicide. I am a suicide survivor, many years ago I tried to take my life, and without my friends and my family I wouldn’t be here today.”
For a struggle that can often be silent in communities, these bikers are making noise.
“It’s a silent struggle, but it’s a mental illness, that people don’t realize it’s a mental disease,” Parrett said. “And for people to realize that there is help out there, and medications, and counseling, and there’s somebody there to help you through whatever you’re going through.
The bikers are breaking the stigma around mental health, hoping it inspires more people to talk about it and get help if they need it.
“It means a lot, the brotherhood and sisterhood that we put together, and everybody gathers together because it’s not like cancer where it has, trying to have a cure,” Brad Persson, a rider and event helper, said. “The cure is letting people know that there is somebody out there that will help you.”
If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide, contact the Crisis Center at 920-436-8888 or the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.