Bicycle tour for suicide prevention begins


Herman Van Rompuy has launched the Te Gek!? project’s summer bike tour with public figures and people affected by suicide

Mental health campaign

European Council president Herman Van Rompuy has got the special Tour de France of the project Te Gek!? under way in Brussels. The Te Gek!? initiative campaigns on mental health issues and started five years ago at the Sint-Annendael psychiatric hospital in Diest, Flemish Brabant.

The fourth edition of its summer bicycle tour, consisting of a part of the real Tour de France course, is dedicated to an awareness campaign around suicide prevention. Among the participants this year are people who have tried or considered killing themselves. Relatives of people who have taken their own lives are also taking part, as are public figures including singer Koen Buyse and news anchor Bart Schols.

The theme of suicide prevention was chosen because of the high number of suicides in Flanders. On average, about three people a day take their own lives, and about 30 try. This is one and a half times higher than the European average.

“We also notice that Flemings have difficulty talking about possible suicide thoughts,” said the organisers in a press release. “To prevent suicide, it is crucial to be able to discuss the topic more.”

Another aim of the Te Gek!? initiative is to increase the visibility of the digital platform and the new telephone number of the suicide line, 1813, which was launched last year.

Photo courtesy Te Gek!?