Erasing stigma: Annual charity ride supports suicide prevention
The cause Trumbull residents Jeremy Brittain and his wife, Tanya, have taken up with their annual charity bicycle ride is one that is still surrounded by stigma, and that some people find difficult to discuss — that’s what the local couple are trying to combat.
The SPOKES charity ride, which stands for “Suicide Prevention — Our Knowlege Erases Stigma,” is this Sunday, Oct. 6, at the Scandinavian Club of Fairfield.
“There’s still a lot of work to do but it is interesting to see more news stories about someone taking their life — it’s not swept under the rug as much as it used to be,” Jeremy Brittain said. “People are more likely to share their story and help people realize why it happened — whether it was being bullied or mental illness. I do think we are getting somewhere.”
It’s a cause that hit close to home for Jeremy Brittain. Four years ago, his sister made a suicide attempt that landed her in the hospital.
“What seemed to us like something out of the blue really came as a wake-up call,” he said. “There were signs we were missing, like her severing ties with her friends and not being the same person she used to be.”
The family hadn’t realized how deep her depression had gone. Thankfully, she survived.
“We turned around and realized that it’s not just a cry for help, it’s more of that person thinking there is no alternative,” Brittain said.
They began doing research and found the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. The couple decided they wanted to do their part to raise awareness and erase the stigma associated with suicide and mental illness.
When Jeremy returned to work after his sister’s attempt, he found himself uncomfortable sharing the reasons why he had been away.
“I finally told myself that I don’t need to hide anything,” he said. “It happens on a daily basis.”
Jeremy Brittain is a cyclist and decided to start a charity ride. Since starting the SPOKES ride four years ago, the couple has raised $100,000 to benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
“We have received a huge outpouring of support from our friends and neighbors in Trumbull,” Tanya Brittain said.
Their work has also helped inspire the foundation.
“They do a lot of local walks around the country but have this untapped market of people who would prefer to do a cycling event,” Jeremy Brittain said. “This past May they launched their first cycling event, based on what we started.”
The SPOKES ride this Sunday includes three different routes — a 10-mile, 25-mile and 50-mile route.
It also includes a post-ride luncheon, with raffle prizes. Spouses and families are welcome to come.
To register or donate, visit Spokesride.org, where you can find a link to the AFSP fund-raising page.