A Dunedin paramedic is training to complete a nearly 250km multisport event in a bid to help lower the suicide rate.
St John paramedic Scott Weatherall is training to complete his first Coast to Coast on February 9 and 10 next year to raise awareness for The Key to Life Trust.
The trust, led by mental health advocate Mike King, works to increase awareness of suicide and mental health issues in New Zealand, with the aim of achieving “a zero suicide rate”.
As a paramedic, about 25% of his work was visiting people having a “tough time mentally”, such as anxiety, depression or suicidal thoughts.
Last year, he completed the Contact Epic Mountain Bike Ride, a 125km ride around Lake Hawea, to raise awareness of suicide and related issues.
Mr Weatherall said that ride proved to him that with determination and emotional support, such an arduous physical and mental feat was achievable.
“You can chase your dreams and the Coast to Coast is one of those things I’ve always thought about but didn’t think I was big enough, fit enough or strong enough [for].”
The Coast to Coast race required good fitness and mental fortitude.
“I hope I can prove you don’t have to be an athlete – you can just be someone with determination,” Mr Weatherall, who is also the Saddle Hill Community Board chairman, said.
The 243km race starts at Kumara Beach on the West Coast and crosses the main divide to finish at New Brighton Beach in Christchurch.
Dunedin sports scientist Matty Graham had devised a fortnightly training programme for him, which he could access via an app.
The online coaching provided “checks and balances” and ensured he was focusing on his weaknesses while still maintaining his strengths.
The Coast to Coast involves cycling, kayaking and running.
Running had been his “weakest link” but he was beginning to enjoy it.
“You have to train your mind that you can do it and identify little steps along the way.”
A workout in the three disciplines, along with two gym sessions, took up about 15 hours a week.
His training would increase to 20 hours a week in the coming months, he said.
The effort was made easier by the knowledge that he was raising awareness for a meaningful cause, he said.
Mental Health Awareness Week begins on Monday, which is World Mental Health Day.
The public are invited to attend the launch of the week at Toitu Otago Settlers Museum on Monday.
Lifeline Aotearoa 800 543-354
Suicide Crisis Helpline 508 828-865 (0508 TAUTOKO)
Samaritans 800 726-666
Alcohol Drug Helpline 800 787-797
General mental health inquiries 800 443-366
The Depression Helpline 800 111-757
Youthline 800 376-633 txt 234 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
What’s Up (for 5 to 18-year-olds; 1pm-11pm) 800 942-8787
Kidsline (aimed at children up to 14; 4pm-6pm weekdays) 0800 543-754 (0800 kidsline)