Walk through dawn: Crowds up for Pieta House fundraiser

Mon, May 14, 2012, 01:00

ABOUT 15,000 people took part in a walk at the weekend to commemorate those lost to suicide, organisers have said.

The Pieta House Darkness into Light event was held at 14 locations around the country.

Participants gathered in darkness on Saturday at 4am and walked or ran 5km through to dawn to fundraise for Pieta House.

The organisation provides help and support for those affected by suicide or self-harm and has three centres in Lucan and Ballyfermot in Dublin, and in Limerick.

Participants included former Irish international footballer Niall Quinn, commentator Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh, Minister of State for Mental Health Kathleen Lynch and broadcaster Maura Derrane.

Ms Lynch said the walk was “an experience which stays with you for a long time afterwards”.

“Tragically, there is not a community in Ireland today that has not been affected by the trauma and despair that surrounds suicide and self-harm,” she said.

“The work of Pieta House is invaluable in helping both the individual and the families of those who have experience of self-harm or suicide to help them get through their dark time.”

Joan Freeman, founder and chief executive of the charity, said she was overwhelmed by the “massive turnout”.

“I’m really encouraged by the fact that we now have 14 locations around the country on board for Darkness Into Light,” she said.

“We’re getting ever closer to our long-term aim of having a Pieta House centre no more than 100km from everyone in Ireland.”

Ms Freeman said fundraisers were vital to ensure the organisation, which does not charge for its services and has running costs of €1.3 million, could continue to carry out its work.