A Detective Inspector overcame extreme weather conditions and a series of wheel and pedal problems to cycle 500 miles over five consecutive days to help prevent other families from being left devastated by a suicide.
DI Deborah Morgan, of Cheshire Constabulary’s Strategic Public Protection department, blamed herself when her beloved brother Ross took his own life at the age of 31 two years ago.
She had received suicide prevention training the previous year as part of her job, but did not see any signs of her brother needing help.
DI Morgan is now determined to help others with mental health issues and is delighted that her cycling challenge has raised over £1,800 and counting for Mind.
The 42-year-old mother of two adult children said: “I did the challenge between Wednesday 4 August and Sunday 8 August with my 52-year-old friend Nikki Morley, who is a beauty therapist and a mum of four adult children.
“On day one we rode from Winsford, where we both live, to Anglesey in North Wales, riding back the next day.
“On day three we rode to Shropshire and back, on day four we rode to New Brighton and back and on the final day we rode to Rhyl in North Wales and back.
“It was absolutely exhausting – we had to have two breakfasts each day to give us the energy we needed – and the weather was a nightmare, going from too hot to two days of extremely heavy rain and then very strong winds on the final day.
“I got sunburnt one day and absolutely soaked the following two days.
“We also got lost on the first day, which resulted in us having to cycle several more miles than we intended to, including a big hill climb.
“In addition, we had a number of bike problems and had to go to two shops for replacement parts, and also had to repair punctures ourselves.
“Nikki and I are proud of ourselves for overcoming all of that and completing the challenge, and for raising so much money for Mind.
“The mental health charity will use the money to help prevent others from being left devastated by a suicide.
“I lost my brother Ross to suicide, and Nikki lost a family friend who took his own life at the age of 20.”
Statistics show that men are more likely to suffer in silence than women. They are also less likely to seek help.
Three times as many men as women die by suicide, and it is the biggest killer of men under the age of 45.
DI Morgan, who has been a police officer for 15 years, said: “The circumstances of Ross’ death hit me hard.
“I’d had suicide training through work around a year before he died, but I never spotted the signs with him.
“This led to me blaming myself and feeling guilty for not doing more to help Ross.
“Those who know me will know I am usually a very resilient person, but the experience knocked me sideways. It was only through the professional help of an occupational health counsellor at Cheshire Constabulary that I was able to understand what was happening inside my head and get myself back on track.
“Woman are more likely to talk to friends, family members or professionals about mental health issues, but unfortunately men seem to see this as a sign of weakness.
“With the turmoil caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, in recent times it has been more important than ever to look after our mental health and seek help and support when we need it.
“I urge any man who is struggling mentally to reach out for that support. It’s okay to not be okay.”
DI Morgan added: “I got into cycling less than a year ago. Before that I used to just go to the gym and a jujitsu club, but the pandemic forced me to seek a different way to stay in shape.
“I turned to cycling and began to ride regularly with Winsford Wheelers Cycling Club, and I recently joined Weaver Valley Cycling Club.
“I usually ride around 30 miles three times a week.
“The requirements of the fundraising challenge were obviously a lot more than that.
“It pushed me and Nikki to our absolute limits, both physically and mentally, but nothing was going to stop us from completing the challenge.”
Mind offers information and advice to people with mental health problems and lobbies the Government and local authorities on their behalf.
You can make a donation to the charity via the JustGiving fundraising page set up for Deborah and Nikki’s cycling challenge.
DI Morgan said:
“I would like to thank everyone who has made a donation so far.
“The JustGiving page is still live and all donations will be put to very good use by the Mind charity.”
The link for the page is https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/nikki-morley1.
- Nikki Morley, left, and DI Deborah Morgan during the cycling challenge