One of Ballarat's key hospitality figures is bracing himself for a challenge to body and mind in the quest to prevent suicide.
Between November 19 to November 21, the Western Hotel's Dan Cronin will be involved in a bike ride for PukaUp, a cause-driven organisation founded by AFL identity Wayne Schwass, which has the vision of ending suicide.
The focus of PukaUp's bike ride is to raise awareness for the prevalence of suicide and encourage meaningful conversations around people's mental health and wellbeing.
Mr Cronin is fully committed to the concept of suicide prevention. His involvement in the bike ride stems back to a local presentation given by Mr Schwass.
"The reason why I jumped on board, we sponsor a local community sports club," Mr Cronin said.
"They had Wayne Schwass come up as part of his PukaUp organisation and he did a talk to the group.
"I spoke with a number of people after that talk and the profound effect he had on that group of people of men and women of ages from 18 plus, he just really cut through."
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Mr Cronin believes talking openly to others is a key factor behind good mental health.
"To be able to get people in a room - whilst they all knew each other, but not intimately - they were able to talk and open up about things that perhaps only their family and friends had spoken about," he said.
"We don't know, we just don't know, how many times doing that prevents another number adding to the statistics."
While the cycling journey to be undertaken is daunting, the nature of the impending bike ride is symbolic.
"There's a group of us riding 331.8 kilometres in honour and remembrance of the 3318 people (across Australia) who took their lives in 2019," Mr Cronin said.
"There will be 75 participants.
"The course itself is going to be very, very challenging. The first day is pretty good. It certainly suits a bloke my size and ability.
"Days 2 and 3 will be a massive challenge. Day 2 is up over Kinglake. It's definitely a decent climb. I'm about 108 kilos and 6' 6" so it's not designed for a bloke my size. On Sunday is Mount Dandenong, another big climb."
Involvement in the initiative did not require much thought as far as Mr Cronin was concerned.
"When I heard the stories of those people who were in that room at that time, I thought, 'This is an organisation I have no issue aligning myself with'.
"For me, it was a no-brainer. I've been cycling since the age of 6, which is quite a few birthdays ago, and I've had a lot of enjoyment out of cycling over many, many years.
"I have had friends of years gone by who have unfortunately taken their lives and I'm very, very lucky I haven't had anyone really close to me."
Mr Cronin knows the trip around scenic parts of the state will be hard, although he acknowledges such difficulties are a part of life.
"It's definitely going to challenge us physically and mentally, but that's part of what it is," Mr Cronin said.
"Nothing good comes from anything easy."
If you or someone you know is in need of crisis support, phone Lifeline 13 11 14.
Help is also available, but not limited, via the following organisations. The key message is you are not alone.
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