PHOTOS: Brave mum teams up with riders to save lives
LIKE a strong pillar being totally annihilated - that's how Sandra Moran has described the feeling of losing her son to suicide nearly five years ago.
It was just two days after his 22nd birthday that Sandra's son, former Gladstone resident Jaie, took his own life, prompting her to embark on an Australia-wide motorcycle ride to start a conversation.
"I basically disconnected with the world," she said.
"It came to a point when I said we've got to do something, we're losing people left, right and centre still and it was just an ongoing issue.
"I decided I'm going to ride around Australia and start talking about it because so many people will not talk about suicide in any capacity."
Jaie's journey, which saw Sandra travel as far west as Geraldton and as far north as Townsville, continued on Saturday as part of the 314km Gladstone Ride4Life Show and Shine Suicide Awareness Ride.
The motorcycle convoy started at the GPC Marina Parklands riding through towns including Jambin and Mount Morgan before finishing at the Calliope River Historical Village .
Sandra said the message for the event was clear - starting conversations and saving lives through community engagement. "It (Jaie's Journey) literally saved my life and that's one reason why motorcycle riding is so important to the people here," she said.
"So many people have mental illness, or they've lost someone to suicide, or they may still battle with suicide idealisation every day and the ride helps them. That ride literally saved me from following a path that would've left the rest of my family traumatised as the death of my son did.
"From that tragedy we are saving lives, just by talking."
REGISTRATIONS FOR SUICIDE AWRENESS RIDE DOUBLE
THE streets were filled with the sound of revving engines on Saturday as the Ride4life convoy made it's way through Gladstone.
Kicking off from the GPC Marina Parklands, the 314km continued through Jambin, Mount Morgan and on to Calliope.
President of Ride4life, Mark Brookes said the second annual event was a big drawcard.
"This year it's a great improvement from last year, we've got over double the numbers and a better venue for everyone," he said.
"As they're rolling in we expect anywhere from 200 plus to show their support for suicide awareness and bereavement in our community.
"It's important we have these support groups at every event we hold so people can come and create solidarity and unity but we've also got assistance here."
DO YOU NEED HELP?If you or someone you know is suffering from depression or anxiety, help is available. Contact: Lifeline: 13 11 14 Beyondblue: 1300 22 46 36 Kids helpline: 1800 55 1800