Former North Melbourne and Sydney Swans star Wayne Schwass will hold a community forum in Wagga on Monday night, as part of his personal mission to stamp out suicide.
Schwass, a dedicated mental health advocate, is leading a 1433km bike ride from Sydney to Melbourne, which begins on Friday.
The group – including fellow former footballers Scott Cummings, Paul Licuria, Danny Frawley and Justin Koschitzke – will arrive in Wagga on Monday, where Schwass will host a free event at The Rules Club, from 7pm.
“Our vision is, quite simply, to stamp out suicide,” Schwass says of the ride and the forums they’ll host along the way.
“Importantly, they’re free events… (and) we would encourage anyone in those local communities that would like to be part of a conversation about mental health, emotional wellbeing and most importantly suicide prevention, to come along.”
Schwass played a total of 282 AFL games for the Kangaroos and the Swans and was a club best-and-fairest at both.
Now, he’s the founder and chief executive of Puka Up, which he calls a social enterprise committed to raising awareness, having silently endured mental illness throughout his playing career.
The suicide prevention bike ride starts in Sydney on Friday and makes its way to Etihad Stadium in Melbourne, with the eight-day journey covering 1433km.
“It’s important because it’s exactly half the number of people who tragically took their lives as a result of suicide in 2016… we’re riding to honour and respect two lives every kilometre,” Schwass said.
Schwass’s Puka Up has partnered with the Black Dog Institute to deliver the forums.
Schwass says they will include sharing practical skills, tips and advice with audiences to help local communities begin to start conversations about suicide prevention.
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