by I Love Limerick Correspondent Laura Goggins
Suicide prevention charity Pieta House’s annual Darkness into Light fundraising event got underway at Thomond Park at 4am Saturday morning as an estimated 8,000 Limerick people came out in full force to support the initiative. Almost 80,000 people turned out for dawn walks at 37 locations around the country, including for the first time Newcastle West in County Limerick, in an incredible show of support for suicide prevention. With twice as many participants as last year, the feeling was one of hope and new beginnings as supporters walked and ran the 5km route in solidarity with those who had lost loved ones to suicide.
The Limerick walk started and ended at Thomond Park as the Unity Gospel Choir sang songs and Limerick business Masterchef supplied food, tea and coffee to the huge crowd. “I can’t believe the huge numbers that have turned out this morning to support our cause,” said Joan Freeman, founder and CEO of Pieta House. “It’s a testament to how far we’ve come as a society – suicide is no longer something we fearfully brush under the carpet. Let the thousands of people gathered in towns and cities all over this country send a strong message to our government: the people of Ireland are serious about tackling suicide and we need action now,” she said.
The theme for this year’s Darkness into Light was ‘Mind Our Men’. Because men are four times more likely than women to take their own lives, participants were encouraged to bring a male friend or family member with them on the walk. Dublin GAA responded to this call with the entire Dublin football team taking part in the Malahide event. Since last year’s event, Pieta House has opened three new suicide and self-harm crisis centres in counties Cork, Galway and Kerry.
With more than 80% of the organisation’s income coming from public donations, the success of fundraisers like Darkness into Light is essential to ensure that its professional counselling service can continue to be available free of charge to those in crisis. For more information, log on to www.pieta.ie.
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Pictures by Caleb Purcell for ILoveLimerick.com 2014. All rights reserved.
Pictures by Chris Luszczki for ILoveLimerick.com 2014. All rights reserved.