Pieta House’s flagship awareness walk/run had a record-breaking number of participants this year. Well in excess of 150,000 people took part in the events all over Ireland, north and south, and across the world at the weekend.
Now in its ninth year, Darkness Into Light (DIL) started in the early hours of Saturday at 4.15am. The first event kicked off in New Zealand, spreading across the world, ending in Vancouver and San Francisco.
Pieta House CEO, Brian Higgins said, “I am overwhelmed by the support for Darkness Into Light this year all over the world. I took part in Skerries in Co Dublin, but from Sydney to Strabane and from Seoul to San Francisco, it’s just incredible to see those images of people waking up and walking with us in this movement against suicide.”
“I want to thank each and every one of the DIL committees throughout the country and abroad, as well as all the communities involved and all the local businesses for their unstinting support of Darkness into Light. The generosity of people who support Pieta House is incredible.”
“We had our biggest ever year in terms of engaging people across Ireland and all over the world and it was fantastic to see our Taoiseach Enda Kenny joining Darkness Into Light in Toronto.”
Speaking on two separate video posts from Toronto, the Taoiseach said it was “a very special occasion to be here before dawn breaks here by Lake Ontario, walking for Pieta House”.
“I’m joined here by a thousand people who are walking from Darkness Into Light for Pieta House,” he said. “I would say to you – wherever you are, Irish or not, all over the world – support what Pieta House is doing because mental health challenges do not know any borders or boundaries and they affect every family sooner or later. I’m privileged and proud as Taoiseach of our country to walk with these 1,000 people here in Toronto this morning.”
Actor Jeremy Irons took part in Darkness Into Light in Clonakilty, Co Cork. “This is a wonderful initiative and a wonderful cause, with people walking all over the world as we speak,” he said. “I am very proud to have set off this group of 2,500 people. So if you weren’t walking this morning, why not?”
Pieta House founder Joan Freeman launched DIL Phoenix Park, where the very first event took place in 2009. More than 10,000 participants registered for the venue this year, compared to 400 eight years ago.
Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People Helen McEntee took part in Navan, while Pieta House ambassadors including Dublin All-Ireland winner Paul Flynn, celebrity chef Derry Clarke, rugby player Hannah Tyrrell and actress Rachel Pilkington also walked at venues across the country.
Another ambassador, TV and radio presenter Eoghan McDermott, was at the Phoenix Park event and tweeted to say that Darkness Into Light was “a movement like no other”.
Since it began in one venue – the Phoenix Park in Dublin in 2009 – Darkness Into Light has grown into a global movement against suicide. Funds raised help to keep Pieta House counselling services free to those in suicidal crisis, people who engage in self-harm and those bereaved by suicide.
In Ireland, almost 500 people die by suicide each year; that’s ten deaths per week. Pieta House and Electric Ireland have asked the people of Ireland to wake up to this alarming issue.