On the 31st of August, Brian Higgins of PIETA House, the centre for prevention of suicide and self-harm, embarked on his 10-day 1,000km rickshaw road-trip from the original PIETA centre in Lucan across Ireland with the goal of raising awareness of – and combating against - the stigma that still surrounds suicide and self-harm.
‘Our vision is of a world where suicide, self-harm and stigma have been replaced by hope, self-care and acceptance,” said the Pieta House CEO. “In the last 10 years we have been brilliant at replacing suicide with hope and bringing people to self-care, but the biggest struggle for us is to replace stigma with acceptance.’
As Higgins passed through Wexford, Waterford, Cork, Tralee, Listowel, Limerick, Ennis, Galway, Tuam and Athlone, he visited Pieta House centres along the way, including the newly-opened Pieta House South East (in Waterford) - and the suicide bereavement centres that Pieta has been operating since July.
TV presenter and RTE 2FM broadcaster Eoghan McDermott jokingly considered this to be an ‘insane’ stunt but agreed ‘his ambition far outweighs his fitness levels, which makes it all the more admirable a feat.’
Since the inception of PIETA in 2006, it has helped over 25,000 people in suicidal distress or those engaging in self-harm, established eight subsequent centres and has gone on to form its flagship fundraiser ‘Darkness Into Light’, Which has brought an enormous amount of success for PIETA, as almost as 90% of the organisations funding comes from these types of events.
Although PIETA boasts these figures, Higgins says ‘wouldn’t it be wonderful if we didn’t have to do it for another 10 years – to think of a time when suicide and self-harm aren’t options for people?’
For those who are having suicidal thoughts and are self-harming, PIETA has a free 24-hour helpline 1800 247 247 and locations for their nearest centres on their website. If you know someone who you think may be in need of help, PIETA also offers a step-by-step guide for friends of those who could be having suicidal thoughts or are self-harming.