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Ride raises suicide prevention awareness

by Amy Roby

Suicide is a difficult subject to discuss openly. The aim of National Suicide Prevention Month, observed every September, is to build awareness and communication through education, intervention, and support. It is a time to remember those who have died by suicide as well as those directly affected by it, and for opening the conversation around suicide through the sharing of personal stories and available resources.

Suicide Prevention Network (spnawareness.org) is a local agency providing “prevention and educational resources; peer and grief support groups; coordinated services and referrals for individuals and families; community awareness events; and resources for law enforcement and first responder personnel when working with families affected by suicide.”

In recognition and observance of National Suicide Prevention Month, SPN will adorn lampposts in Minden and Gardnerville with purple ribbons throughout September. The agency hosts Facebook Live events each Thursday that promote suicide awareness and prevention information, feature interviews with local community members, and connect viewers with area programs that offer support during challenging times.

This weekend, SPN hosts the second annual “Andy’s Ride for Suicide Awareness,” which takes place Saturday. The bicycle ride originated last year as a way to bring attention to increasing rates of suicide and to honor the memory of Andy Getas, a local dentist, jazz enthusiast, musician, and cyclist who died by suicide in 2015.

Check-in is at 7 a.m. at The Pink House, 193 Genoa Lane. Cyclists can choose to ride 22, 34, or 40 miles. Routes travel the base of the Sierra Nevada mountain range along the Old Pony Express/Emigrant Trail. There will be two rest stops: one at the Cottonwoods at the intersection of Fairview Lane and Fredricksburg Road, and the other at the Emigrant bench just before Woodfords.

This year’s event has a 30-rider limit, and pre-registration is required (no walk-up registrations can be accepted). The $30 fee includes lunch provided by The Pink House, a goodie bag, and one raffle ticket; additional raffle tickets can be purchased the day of the event. Local guitarist Billy Gilkerson provides musical entertainment and will share his memories of Andy.

SPN’s Special Events Coordinator Donna Chizek said, “We probably have a little over 50% of last year’s riders returning. Everyone (who rode last year) had a really good time… they were appreciative of the opportunity to learn more about suicide prevention.”

Participants have their choice of five lunch options: turkey chipotle club sandwich, Italian salami and cheese platter, veggie quiche, curry chicken salad, or a mixed green salad. Five individual gift baskets filled with a riding jersey, gift card, cycling socks, and other treats will be awarded during the raffle.

Several spots for Saturday’s ride are still available. To register, log on to http://andysride2020.rsvpify.com. All funds generated from this event stay in the Carson Valley. No refunds will be issued for canceled or unfulfilled reservations.

Please note that due to impacts related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the date for SPN’s “Gotta Dance” fundraiser has been moved to April 9, 2021; the event will be held at the Douglas County Community Center.

SPN is located at 1625 Hwy 88, Suite 203 in Minden. Their number is 775-783-1510. The phone number of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255 (TALK). The Lifeline “provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, across the United States.” It also offers guidance and support for those trying to help a friend or loved one in distress. More information can be found at suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

Amy Roby can be reached at ranchosroundup@hotmail.com.