WHEN Ben Higgs lost two of his friends to suicide within as many years he knew something had to be done.
The 38-year-old father-of-two has experienced his own struggles with depression and wanted the cycle to stop.
The Plebs, Pros and Personalities 24-hour treadmill challenge was born five years ago after a discussion with his mates around beers while grieving the loss of their friends.
Initially just in one location, then a handful around the country, next Friday from 6pm 280 Anytime Fitness gyms in all states and territories will be hosting the PPP4SPA 24-hour treadmill challenge to raise awareness and funds for Suicide Prevention Australia.
Runners can book in for slots as little as 15 minutes for $15, with the overall goal of $500,000 to be raised by the end of the 24-hours.
As of last night close to $100,000 had already been committed.
Celebrities including Alex Perry, Sonny Bill Williams and Timomatic have supported some of the more local events in past years, but now the fight has been taken nationally and Maroubra-based Mr Higgs hopes it will result in more Australians thinking about suicide prevention and talking to their mates when they are down.
“Keeping that treadmill turning over has a significant correlation to mental health. Sometimes in the worst times you’ve just got to keep running and keep that treadmill of life turning over,” Mr Higgs said.
“I’m someone with lived experience I’ve danced with the devil (of suicide) so to speak a few times myself and I’ve lost a lot of friends to this.”
Suicide is the biggest killer of Australians aged 15-44 according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
More than 3000 people die as a result of suicide each year, equating to one Australian every three hours.
Mr Higgs hopes the treadmill challenge will become the next “Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea” and is determined to stem the tide of suicides across Australia.
“I would love to see it get to that sort of scale and embraced by communities right across Australia,” he said.
“For every one person who suicides they say there are more than 100 people are impacted so when you think about how many Australians are being affected each year it’s just huge.
“Suicide kills double the amount of people that die on the road each year. We need to wake up and pay more attention to this.”
Anytime Fitness CEO Arthur McColl said he hoped the event would be run annually.
“Suicide affects so many of us and so many of our members so it’s a good way to give back,” Mr McColl said.
“We’ve got the treadmills and we thought we could really maximise the power of this fantastic event.”