Last year, Lifeline Australia was the charity partner for the inaugural French Tour on FulGaz. Together, you raised over $80,000 to contribute in the fight against suicide and help Lifeline answer calls that could save lives.
It’s easy to forget the importance of these funds and the difference they can make everyday. Here’s the story of Raj Wilson, who is riding for his daughter, Yasmin, who he lost to suicide in 2019.
Hailing from Nunawading, Victoria, Raj is a father of two children, Yasmin and Jacob. He took up cycling about 14 years ago, initially as a social pursuit and then fell in love with it. Cycling has helped him create new friendship groups and riding has allowed him to discover parts of Melbourne, and a few years ago, France in a way that can only be experienced on a bike.
Who are you riding for?
I lost my darling daughter, Yasmin (aged 15), to suicide in 2019. Her loss is a pain beyond anything that I could have ever imagined. My grief doesn’t diminish with time but I try to channel it into positive action. I want to do whatever I can to prevent someone else losing a loved one to suicide. Even with a loving family and friendship network, someone suffering with mental illness can find it hard to reach out for help.
The counselling support Lifeline offers, together with the anonymity of accessing the service, means it provides a vital intervention for people in their darkest time. It saddens me that the demand for Lifeline’s services exceeds its capacity. I’m passionate about playing my part to help increase Lifeline’s reach into the community.
How did you hear about the Hope Cycle?
My sister is a volunteer counsellor for Lifeline and shared details of Hope Cycle knowing my personal connection to help support suicide prevention and my passion for cycling.
Where do you set up your cycle equipment at home?
While there’s no substitute for being outdoors on the bike, competing priorities and Melbourne’s fickle weather mean I often ride indoors. However, technology has come a long way to bridge the gap between outdoor and indoor riding.
FulGaz, for example, has amazing real life simulations of being out on the road that allows me to ride routes across Australia and the world from my family room. I have a bike set up in my family room and getting on my bike in the morning has become a near daily ritual, especially during the various COVID lockdowns Melbourne has endured.
How will you be preparing?
I had a ride plan to get me through the winter months even before signing up for Hope Cycle. I aim to do around 200-250 kms each week, indoors and on the road. Committing to Hope Cycle has given me increased motivation.
What would you say to those who are thinking of participating?
I would encourage everyone to sign up, whether you cycle socially or more actively. How often do you get a chance to make an important social contribution while on a bike?
If you or someone you know needs crisis support, please call Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14, or visit lifeline.org.au/gethelp.