A total of €7 million had been raised for suicide-prevention charity Pieta House by Sunday morning following this weekend’s Darkness Into Light walking appeal, a spokesman for the charity has said.
More than 140,000 people took part in the 2021 suicide awareness event which was held at dawn on Saturday, May 8th with participants nationwide setting out at first light to walk 5km.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, tens of thousands of people usually gathered in crowds for the annual morning walk which is now held in cities across the globe. However, for the past two events, participants have gone on their own socially distanced morning walks.
A spokesman for Pieta House told The Irish Times on Sunday morning that more than €7 million had been raised through the 2021 event so far and that he expected that figure to continue to rise over the coming days. The charity will make an announcement on the total amount fundraised on Tuesday, he said.
Some €1.1 million of the total sum was raised during Friday night’s Late Late show on RTÉ.
The charity, which relies hugely on public donations for operations, suffered financial losses last year after its 2020 Darkness into Light event was cancelled because of lockdown restrictions during the first wave of Covid-19. It held a Sunrise appeal instead where people marked the suicide prevention event by themselves at beaches, harbours, parks and streets around the country.
The charity has said it hopes the traditional walks, which have been held since 2009, will return from 2022.
Participants in this year's event included Irish CNN reporter Donie O'Sullivan who posted a photo from his sunrise walk in Florida. He was joined by EU Commissioner for Environment, Ocean and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevicius who posted a photo of his early morning rainy bike ride in Brussels in support of the event. RTÉ presenter Doireann Garrihy, business woman Norah Casey and Minister for Children and Equality Roderic O'Gorman were also among those who took part in Saturday morning's event.
In Kinsale in Co Cork, more than 200 emergency vehicles gathered shortly before dawn on Saturday and created a parade of lights as they looped through the seaside town. Unperturbed by the rainy conditions, the town's locals gathered on the streets at sunrise to witness the special community initiative to support mental health nationwide.
A statement from the town noted that the parade gave “positivity, hope and a sense that better days are now ahead”.
“The resilient town is rebooting and will fully reopen shortly in a safe way as the start point of the gateway to the Wild Atlantic Way,” said the statement from the event’s organising committee. It added that it hoped to made the sunrise parade an annual event in the Kinsale calendar bringing together the town and community in an inclusive way.
Cormac Fitzgerald, who represents Kinsale's business community, said the event was a wonderful opportunity to pay tribute to healthcare workers and those working for the emergency services.
“Their resilience and heroic efforts over the past year, and the integral work they have done on behalf of all of us, should be acknowledged and should never be forgotten,” he said.