Cyclists promoting suicide prevention reach Dublin
Extended stage for peleton 250-strong winds way into capital after 7,000 play part in effort
Ryan Cannon from Killiney leading cyclists who on Sunday completed a 1,400km journey around Ireland for Cycle Against Suicide. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins
Two weeks and 1,400 kilometres after they began some 250 cyclists promoting awareness of suicide supports made their way into Dublin this evening.
Organiser Jim Breen estimated that 250 people had taken part in the full two-week Cycle Against Suicide but that over 7,000 people had participated for shorter legs along the route.
Having left Belfast on April 27th last participants made their way through Antrim, Derry, Tyrone, Fermanagh, Donegal, Leitrim, Longford, Roscommon, Offaly, Tipperary, Limerick, Kerry, Cork, Laois and Meath.
The final leg saw around 1,000 participants cycle from Mullingar in Co Westmeath to the 2fm headquarters in Dublin.
Mr Breen said the event, now in its third year, was about raising awareness of supports for people experiencing depression, incidence of self-harm and those at risk of or bereaved by suicide.
“It’s ok not to feel ok, and it’s absolutely ok to ask for help,” he said, reiterating the message which the cyclists have brought to schools, prisons, businesses and voluntary groups on both sides of the border over the past fortnight.
“The word life-changing is bandied about a lot but this is truly life-changing,”he said, telling the story of one man he met who told him he had never previously been able to admit that his father’s death over 30 years ago had been as a result of suicide.
Mr Breen said, by talking about it, the man was able to “begin to deal with that grief”.
He thanked all those who had been involved including all the businesses and individuals who had provided help, accommodation and services to the group.
Separately Pieta House, which held its annual Darkness Into Light fundraising and awareness event overnight on Saturday estimated that 100,000 people had took part in events held in 80 venues nationwide and internationally.
The 5km walk/run, which is supported by Electric Ireland, began at 4.15am on Saturday morning.
The first events took place in Australia where an estimated 4,000 people participated. Walks also took place in the US, Canada, the UK and Scotland.
Founder of Pieta House Joan Freeman said that in this, the ninth year of the event, the organisation still strived to save lives and to change the conversation around suicide and self-harm.
“However, people are still afraid to face the reality that they may know someone who’s at risk of suicide or self-harm,” she said, praising all those who took part as “ the most important component of all in the fight against suicide”.
Pieta House, a suicide and self-harm crisis organisation, has 10 centres throughout Ireland and provides a professional one-to-one therapeutic service for those with suicidal ideation or engaging in self-harm.