Darkness Into Light: 200,000 participate in suicide awareness walk
Pieta House fundraiser took place in 202 venues across 19 countries in five continents
Participants in the Darkness Into Light event in Clontarf. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times
About 200,000 people across Ireland and the world took part in this year’s Darkness into Light event which raises awareness around suicide, self-harm and mental health.
The fundraising event, organised by Pieta House, took place in 202 venues across 19 countries in five continents. The 5km walk began in New Zealand, with events staged in Wellington and Christchurch before moving to Australia, then across the Middle East and into Europe, to Belgium, Germany, Spain, Britain, Ireland and finally to the US and Canada.
Now in its 11th year, participants set out walking in darkness on shortly after 4am.
The event raises more than €6 million for prevention, intervention and bereavement services with each participant paying a registration fee of €25.
Speaking during the event on Saturday morning, Pieta House CEO Elaine Austin said the event “unites us as people, from rural communities to major cities, across the globe, in a spirit of comfort and compassion to give and build hope. It connects us all, creating the energy for change, in which suicidal thoughts, self-harm and stigma can be replaced by hope, self-care and acceptance. It is vital for the delivery of our services and for raising awareness.”
According to the National Office for Suicide Prevention, 392 people died by suicide in 2017.
Pieta House, which was founded in 2006 in Lucan, Co Dublin, now has 15 centres across Ireland offering free counselling to those suffering from suicidal ideation and to people who are engaging in self-harm.
It also operates a suicide bereavement counselling service providing free counselling, therapy and support to individuals, couples, families and children who have been bereaved by suicide. Staff are fully qualified and provide a professional one-to-one therapeutic service.