Limerick's 'Darkness into Light' event will be taking place on Saturday, May 10 and was launched in conjunction with Electric Ireland at the Clarion Hotel in Limerick city.
The first Limerick 'Darkness into Light' campaign organised by Richard Lynch (ILOVELIMERICK.COM) back in 2010 was a great success.
An estimated 30,000 people participated in the symbolic dawn walk across the country.
The campaign was set up in order to raise suicide awareness and secure desperately needed funding for suicide and self -harm crisis centre, Pieta House.
Joan Freeman, CEO of Pieta house opened the launch in the Clarion Hotel this year saying,
'Last year alone we saw over 4,000 people, we saw children as young as six years of age to people in their 80's… where would they have gone if there was no Pieta?''
Ms Freeman went on to say, “Next week, 10 more people will have committed suicide, eight of them will be men.”
This ties into the 'Mind Our Men' campaign that will be running adjunct to the 'Darkness into Light' campaign.
According to the Mind Our Men website,men don’t usually seek help for themselves and if they do it’s at the point of crisis.
They are urging people to keep an eye on themen closest to them, a brother, father, husband and sign up to pledge support for the campaign.
Pieta House has a massive support network in Limerick with more than 5,800 people involved in Limerick's 2013 'Darkness into Light' campaign.
According to the Central Statistics Office, Limerick has the highest rate of suicide in the country.
Fine Gael TD for Limerick and President of the Irish Association of Suicidology, Dan Neville TD, released a press statement last week calling for the de-stigmatization of mental illnesses.
“Many people are still unnerved by the idea of mental ill health and the various titles of illnesses such as psychosis, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression. People who live with these illnesses are often marked out as being different from the rest of society,” added Mr. Neville.
Pieta House and other suicide awareness groups across the country are fighting the battle against stigmatisation of mental health disorders.
Limerick native Cormac Hayes (24) set up the 'I Choose Life' Facebook page in October of last year.
The I Choose Life's manifesto states: 'LETS BREAK THE SILENCE AND LETS FIGHT SUICIDE.'
The Facebook page has garnered much attention and has amassed over 11,000 likes so far.
It has become a roaring success and a safe place for people affected by suicide or mental health issues, to reach out and tell their stories to a non-judgmental forum.
Mr Hayes who also curates the 'I Choose Life' page, bravely tells his own story about his battle against depression.
“I became angry; I hated things like work, friends, anyone that annoyed me to be honest. I hid it for a while but I could see my moods changing, losing interest, between GAA and meeting my friends, most things really. The only time I felt free from pain was drinking one bottle after another. I felt free I could feel no more pain inside…
“I had it planned for a Saturday night to finish my life no one would care so I was ready to go…
“I asked one of the lads take me home. I was so tired from drinking and the tablets had taken a toll on me now. The lad that was taking me home that night knew I had something planned. It really was him that I opened up to and I told him what I was going to do.”
Cormac was admitted to hospital and got the help he needed, with the support of his family members and friends he enrolled in a counseling program.
Mr. Hayes set up the 'I Choose Life' Facebook page to get people to start talking about depression, suicide and to remove the stigma attached to ill mental health.
“If we can save one life, that's one life saved…lets break the sigma and start saving lives," he added.
'Darkness into Light' participants will be 'walking from darkness into light' to symbolise that there is hope in the bleakness of depression and to hit home to anyone suffering that they are not alone.
According to Pieta Houses' website, Darkness into Light is a symbol of hope and a celebration of life.
To all those suffering, you do not have to go it alone, silence is your enemy, speak out today and start the healing process.
The Mungret branch of Pieta House can be contacted at (061) 484444. To find out more about the Pieta organization check out their website at www.pieta.ie.
To sign up to Mind our Men campaign and pledge your support please go to mindourmen.ie.
You can read Cormac's full story and contact the 'I Choose Life' organisation here.