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  • Southside

Record-breaking turnout for walk

Wednesday, 17th May, 2017 2:00pm
Record-breaking turnout for walk

Organisers have been thrilled at the record-breaking turn-out.

Record-breaking turnout for walk

Organisers have been thrilled at the record-breaking turn-out.

DARKNESS into Light, Pieta House’s flagship awareness walk/run, saw a record-breaking number of participants this year.

Well in excess of 150,000 people took part in the various events staged all over Ireland, north and south, and across the world over the weekend of May 6 and 7.

Now in its ninth year, Darkness Into Light (DIL) – supported by Electric Ireland – started in the early hours of Saturday at 4.15am.

The first event kicked off in New Zealand, before spreading across the world, ending in Vancouver and San Francisco.

Pieta House CEO, Brian Higgins said the Southside charity was overwhelmed by the support for Darkness Into Light across the world this year.

“I took part in the event in Skerries 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,” he said.

“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 the local businesses for their unstinting support of Darkness into Light.

“The generosity of people who support Pieta House is incredible,” he added. “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 the Canadian city,  the Taoiseach said it was a very special occasion “to be here before dawn breaks 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, to 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.”

However, the founder of Pieta House has hit out at Enda Kenny for taking part in Darkness Into Light but not increasing mental health funding.

Joan Freeman said she is surprised that the Taoiseach had “the neck” to take part, when funding for the area has remained static.

Ms 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.

One participant in park posted: “Magnificent turn out in Phoenix Park to remember those gone before us in this terrible darkness , and to give hope to everyone.”

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”.

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?”

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 10 deaths per week.

Pieta House and Electric Ireland have asked the people of Ireland to wake up to this alarming issue.   

This is the fifth year that Electric Ireland has been the major sponsor for Darkness into Light.

Paul Stapleton, General Manager of Electric Ireland said: “We are very proud to support Pieta House, their vital work and their important message of hope.

“It was heartening to see that so many people answered the call to Wake Up and walk from Darkness Into Light.”


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