Dayna Pukallus will be spending 24 hours on a spin bike raising money for LifeLine. Picture: Dominic Elsome
Dayna Pukallus will be spending 24 hours on a spin bike raising money for LifeLine. Picture: Dominic Elsome

Dayna takes on Burnett suicide stats with 24 hour spinathon

Taking on a marathon 24 hour stint of the spin bike, symbolic of the sharp highs and plummeting lows of mental illness, Kingaroy mental health activist Dayna Pukallus is fighting back against the South Burnett’s tragic suicide statistics.

Kicking off at 11am this morning (January 15), Miss Pukallus is pushing through the night on the spin bike for suicide prevention in Australia, raising awareness and ideally $500 for the cause.

Having battled depression and suicidal thoughts in her own life, the An All Nighter fundraiser comes from a deeply personal place, and by demonstrating strength through vulnerability, Miss Pukallus hopes to be a catalyst those important conversations in the community.

READ MORE: SUICIDE EPICENTRE: Data reveals Burnett‘s dark problem

This will be the second year she has taken on the mammoth ride, after last year being inspired by a gym in Toowoomba who took on the record for the longest spin class of 36 hours.

“Because we were in the middle of Mental Health Awareness Month, I wanted to do something with that thought. So, I concocted this idea of sitting on a pushbike for 24 hours and raising awareness for mental illnesses,” she said.

“So, that's what I did last year, and I raised $400 for Beyond Blue.”

Reflecting on statistics released this year, revealing the South Burnett as a suicide hotspot, Miss Pukallus decided to focus this years ride specifically on suicide and tackling the taboos which prevent people from having life saving conversations.

“Even before COVID-19 I went into a deep depression myself over the last 12 months and decided I had to do it again. I felt like it was the right thing to do,” she said.

“I felt like a lot of people needed it, needed that motivation over the last 12 months with the bushfires and COVID.”

Dayna Pukallus will be spending 24 hours on a spin bike raising money for Lifeline. Picture: Dominic Elsome
Dayna Pukallus will be spending 24 hours on a spin bike raising money for Lifeline. Picture: Dominic Elsome

Aiming to make this an annual event, Miss Pukallus wishes to gradually change the conversation surrounding suicide in our community and raise awareness around this critical issue locally, nationally, and worldwide.

She believes a deep misunderstanding of the mindset experienced by a person suffering from chronic depression can worsen the issue, with those potentially in a position to help instead choosing to show the person judgment over support.

READ MORE: FREE: Where to turn for mental health help in the South Burnett

The lack of education and communication surrounding suicide is forcing us to fight an uphill battle, and inhibiting our ability to show empathy and kindness to those who need it most.

“Up until somebody commits that act, they're all well and good to say ‘just get over it’ or ‘you’re only thinking about yourself’,” she said.

“As an outsider, I can completely understand why you would say that, but as somebody suffering from these suicidal thoughts, your mindset is not right.

“You’re not going to be thinking logically like that. That’s not the way your brain interprets that situation. I feel like no one really cares to talk about it until someone’s done it.”

Miss Pukallus views the 24 ride as symbolic of the experience had by those suffering from mental illness, from the emotional highs and lows to the mental strength it takes to resist the urge to give up.

READ MORE: ‘NO ANSWER’: Burnett top cop on responding to suicides

But despite the crippling physical and mental impact of cycling for 24 hours straight, Miss Pukallus said the positive impact on the community is enough to keep her going.

“I think hearing strangers recognise that there is movement in the community on changing the stigma and opening up the conversation, that reassures me that I'm doing the right thing - even if at 2am in the morning my body is telling me I’m doing the wrong thing,” she said.

“I've had one or two people say it’s opened up conversations in their family about mental health, so I’m hoping this year it opens up a few more conversations in family and friendship circles in the South Burnett about suicide.”

If you’d like to help Miss Pukallus make a difference in our community, you can donate to her Go Fund Me page HERE. All proceeds will go to Lifeline.

If you’re keen to show her some support and cheer her on, stop by for a visit at Conquer Fitness in Kingaroy.

If you or someone you know needs mental health assistance, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

For further tips and awareness of mental health, head to www.beyondblue.org.au