A warm Portlaoise welcome is planned by St Mary’s CBS and Scoil Chríost Rí students for 1,000 Cycle Against Suicide participants who will stop for a night on May 8.
The annual cycle around Ireland promotes the anti-suicide message that “It’s ok not to feel ok, and it’s absolutely ok to ask for help”.
CBS teacher Stephanie Buckley is co-ordinating the Laois stopover, along with Madeleine Hearn from the girls’ school next door on the Borris Road.
They are one of thirty ‘Anchor Schools’ chosen to host the cycle.
“We are delighted to welcome the cyclists to Portlaoise. The impact is powerful and far reaching, not just in our schools, but also in the community, which has been affected by suicide. Statistics show that 80 percent of suicides are male and the high risk group is teens to mid twenties, so this is vital,” she said.
The following morning, May 9, the schools will hold a mental health event with celebrity speakers, video, music and presentations.
“We will have agencies set up, giving people an opportunity to make contact with them, and foster the sense that it’s ok to get help,” said Ms Buckley.
While it is the first year for Cycle Against Suicide to stop in Laois, last year she and nine CBS students joined in to cycle 40km from Carlow to Kilkenny.
“Bringing the cycle to Laois will make a huge difference. We have an amber flag for positive mental health, but this will help bring that on a bigger scale into the community,” Ms Buckley said.
Warm beds and hot meals are needed for the cyclists, with the community asked to help out by offering accommodation, becoming road marshalls, sandwich makers or just getting out and cheering.
Cycle Against Suicide was founded in 2012 by Jim Breen, to “break the cycle of suicide on the island of Ireland”.
Presentations are given to schools and communities along the route.
To offer accommodation in Portlaoise, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To volunteer, email email@example.com.