When Pilbara riders return to the roads for the annual Black Dog Ride this Sunday, they will be doing it in tribute to a valued local gone too soon.
Local event organisers the Pilbara Motorcycle Sisters have this year dedicated the one-day ride, aimed at raising awareness of suicide and depression, to the memory of Karratha resident Chanel Nicholas.
Mrs Nicholas was one of seven people in the Pilbara, including five in Karratha, who tragically took their own lives over the holiday period in a spate of suicides that rocked the region.
Her parents, Connie and Jim Gugich, who live in Perth, will travel to Karratha to be part of the ride.
Event organiser and PMS committee member Joanne Waterstrom-Muller said Mrs Nicholas had been a supporter of PMS and the group wanted to pay tribute to her memory.
“We were approached by Chanel’s family about them getting involved, because they wanted to promote the prevention of suicide based on what’s happened in their family,” she said.
“Chanel actually gave a talk at the Black Dog Ride two years ago ... and she’s done a lot of good things around town and has done a lot for youth services and was well-respected by local youth.”
“We’re happy to support her family ... so we wanted to dedicate the ride to Chanel.”
The Pilbara Black Dog Ride will be one of a series held across the nation. The rides have raised more than $2.5 million for mental health since 2009.
Riders will start at 4pm at the Karratha City Shopping Centre, travel to Karratha Back Beach and then Dampier, before finishing at 6pm with a community event at Hearson’s Cove.
The community event will be an opportunity for people to come together and share a toast to Mrs Nicholas’ life.
“Mental health issues are everywhere, not just the Pilbara, but what’s happened over the Christmas period has affected this small community quite badly and we need to start talking about it more and making sure there is help out there,” Mrs Waterstrom-Muller said.
If you or someone you know is thinking of suicide, phone Lifeline on 13 11 14.