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Australian motorcyclists finish cross-country charity ride in L.A.

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More than 40 Australian motorcyclists arrived in downtown Los Angeles on Saturday evening after riding more than 4,350 miles across the United States to raise funds for a major mental health and suicide prevention program.

Mayor Eric Garcetti, Australian Consulate officials and representatives from the National Council for Behavioral Health welcomed participants of the Black Dog Ride, which made 21 stops in 14 states to spread the word about Mental Health First Aid.

After leaving Big Bear Lake, the motorcyclists arrived about 6 p.m. at the Los Angeles Police Department headquarters across from City Hall.

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Mental Health First Aid trains veterans, first responders and laypersons to recognize and help someone who might be developing a mental health problem or experiencing a crisis.

The organization, which has trained more than 450,000 people, was started in Australia in 2001 and came to the U.S. in 2008.

The Black Dog Ride was founded by Steve Andrews in 2009 after his mother and his best friend’s wife committed suicide. The event has raised more than $2 million for mental health and suicide prevention services in Australia.

“We’re excited to do in the United States what we’ve been doing to raise awareness about depression and suicide in Australia for more than five years,” said Andrews, who hopes to raise $200,000 for the U.S. chapter of the organization.

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