A beauty queen has revealed how the trauma of discovering the body of a friend who had died through suicide, has inspired her to get on her bike to help raise awareness of suicide.
Judy Fitzgerald, a former Miss Bikini Ireland, experienced the trauma of losing three close friends to suicide.
Judy, is one of a number of well-known names who have been made ambassadors for the 2016 Cycle Against Suicide campaign.
The cycle, which set off from Dublin yesterday — with more than 7,000 taking part — will travel 1,100km across the country and finish up back in the capital, on May 7.
Other high profile celebrities who have joined the campaign include, pop star and Voice of Ireland judge Bressie, and model, Rosanna Davidson.
“When I was in school, three of my friends committed suicide. They were all young males,” Judy, 25, explained.
She also revealed how she discovered a close friend who had died through suicide.
“I was in secondary school. It was tough time for everyone involved. Having lost people to suicide, this event is really close to my heart,” she added.
Ambassadors will also give talks about suicide and depression awareness in the communities as they travel through on the route.
“Over 800 people die by suicide in Ireland each year. That is 800 families and communities devastated; 800 lives cut short,” stated Cycle Against Suicide Director, Jim Breen.
“We aim to affect change by beginning a conversation about mental health; spreading the message that ‘it’s ok not to feel ok; and it’s absolutely ok to ask for help’ into schools, businesses and communities throughout the island of Ireland.”
Judy confirmed, that as well as cycling her bike, she’ll take part in a skydive as part of the campaign.
“It’s my third year working with cycle against suicide and I believe it is a very worthy cause. The cycle is also a great way to keep fit and to meet new people,” she said.
Director of Cycle Against Suicide Jim Breen, added: “Ambassadors have always played an important role in the Cycle Against Suicide movement helping to promote our message ‘It’s ok not to feel ok’, and to encourage people of all ages to ask for help.
“We’re delighted to be working closely with Judy in getting the message out there,” Mr Breen said.
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