Man on a mission of hope rides through Craig | CraigDailyPress.com

Man on a mission of hope rides through Craig

CRAIG — Hope is a powerful force, powerful enough to propel one man from coast to coast as he rides his bicycle to raise awareness of suicide prevention.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is a leading cause of death in the United States. Suicide rates increased in nearly every state from 1999 through 2016, and in Colorado, the CDC reported, the rate jumped an estimated 31 to 37 percent.

"The numbers don't lie. People are dying," said veteran and cyclist Denny Ying, who stopped in Craig on Sept. 19 and 20 as part of his coast-to-coast ride.

A T-shirt filled with names of people who completed suicide is one of the items Ying carries with him as a reminder of the importance of preventing suicide.

The trigger for Ying's journey began in April and May.

"Things were falling apart," he said.

As his wedding date approached, personal insecurities began to grow, ultimately resulting in the end of his relationship. About the same time, a real-estate business he'd developed with partners was dissolved.

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"I was having doubts about all the major decisions I had made in my life. … I was confronting everything. I was questioning my entire decision-making process," he said.

It took his life falling apart for Ying to find his purpose. By Memorial Day, he felt he had to make a change.

"When things started to fall apart, I bought a bicycle and started raising awareness of veterans suicide and realized this is a purpose that I had been looking for," he recalled.

His first ride was took him from Denver to Chicago. His current ride, however, is somewhat longer, from Sacramento to Boston.

"I think it's an amazing cause," said Colorado State Patrol Captain Douglas Conrad after meeting Ying and learning more about why he decided to ride across the country.

Cross-country bicyclist Denny Ying meets with local law enforcement on a stop in Craig.

During his journey, Ying has frequently visited with emergency responders who encounter the horror and hardship of responding to suicide.

"His story and the awareness going forward cannot only benefit the state of Colorado, but also the entire nation," Conrad said.

Through his own recent struggles, Ying realized the importance of self-care.

"It's OK to give, it's great, but let's not forget about ourselves. Let's not leave ourselves behind," Ying said. "It's OK to feel however you feel. It's OK to feel, but it doesn't mean it's the end of the world."

Once he reaches his destination, Ying doesn't intend to stop riding.

Instead, he's working to develop a team of like-minded people with whom to hold regular rides, relays, and races to continue to draw attention to the high rate of suicide, particularly among veterans, and inspire people who are struggling to find their purpose.

"This is in its infancy for me, but I know there are a lot of other movements out there. It takes a whole community to raise awareness, so I want to encourage collaboration," Ying said.

To follow his ride and learn how to join #teamridesforhope, visit facebook.com/teamridesforhope.

"I'm calling it 'Team Rides for Hope,' because if we allow ourselves to look for hope, people with hope are less likely to take their lives," Ying said. "While it feels we are struggling and have to end it, but instead, if we give ourselves and our lives a chance, we have the opportunity to thrive and shine."

Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.

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