80,000 expected at Darkness into Light event for Pieta House

Walks and runs to take place in 39 locations nationwide as well as in London and Sydney

Joan Freeman, founder and chief executive of suicide prevention organisation Pieta House House with TV hosts Eoghan Mc Dermott and Sinead Kennedy of RTÉ at the launch Darkness into Light, a 5km walk/run which takes place on Saturday May 10th. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Joan Freeman, founder and chief executive of suicide prevention organisation Pieta House House with TV hosts Eoghan Mc Dermott and Sinead Kennedy of RTÉ at the launch Darkness into Light, a 5km walk/run which takes place on Saturday May 10th. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Mon, Mar 3, 2014, 14:56

Up to 80,000 people are expected to take part in this year’s Darkness into Light event on Saturday, May 10th to raise money for and awareness of Pieta House, an organisation for the prevention of self-harm or suicide.

Founder and chief executive Joan Freeman, said the number of participants expected to participate in this year’s event - in which participants do a five kilometre walk or run beginning at 4.15am and finishing as the sun rises - looks set to double.

The 40,000 participants who took place last year raised some €800,000 for the charity.

In this its sixth year, the event will take place in 39 locations nationwide and will, for the first time, also be held overseas with walks/runs taking place in London and Sydney.

Asked why she believed so many people got behind the annual fundraiser Ms Freeman said: “Every week 10 people die (by suicide), eight of who are men...I think people get the fact that Pieta House is trying to stop suicide in this country. I think people are now not afraid to talk about it and that they want to do something,” she said.

He encouraged all women participating in this year’s event to “bring a man” to help raise awareness among men.

However, she said Darkness into Light “was not about creating awareness of suicide - we know about suicide in this country. This is about creating awareness of hope and that’s what each of us is doing every time we take a step”.

TV hosts Sinead Kennedy who co-presents Winning Streak and Eoghan McDermott, who co hosts RTÉ’s The Voice, were on hand to launch the event which is supported by Electric Ireland.

Mr McDermott said suicide affected people from all backgrounds: “it affects all spectrums, every type of family...the real battle now is for people to know that help exists,” he said. “Help is there and readily available if people are just brave enough to ask for it.”

For more information see dil.pieta.ie.