A record 750 people met in Salthill at dawn recently to remember those lost to suicide.
They were part of the 15,000 who turned out at 14 locations across the country to participate in the annual Pieta House’s Darkness into Light 5km fundraiser. It raised €200,000 for the charity.
The Galway group met at 4am at Blackrock and walked or ran the course which raised vital money for the suicide and self-harm prevention centre which was set up in Dublin in 2006.
Plans are in the pipeline to set up a further centre in Tuam.
Joan Freeman, the founder and chief executive of Pieta House, says she was “overwhelmed” by the turnout for the walk and the “huge support” for the event.
“This walk was a beautiful way to start the day and I’m really encouraged by the fact that we now have 14 locations around the country on board for Darkness into Light. We’re getting ever closer to our long-term aim of having a Pieta House centre no more than 100 kilometres from everyone in Ireland,” she said.
This year’s Darkness into Light fundraiser follows the release of new figures from Pieta House which showed a significant rise in the number of people seeking help in 2011.
The under-18 age group saw the highest increase with a rise of 93 per cent. Females accounted for over two thirds of these. The highest instance of self-harm was in under-18s.
Minister of State at the Department of Health Kathleen Lynch said she was honoured and delighted to lend her support to the annual event, having led the walk last year.
“It’s an experience which stays with you for a long time afterwards,” she said. “Tragically, there is not a community in Ireland today that has not been affected by the trauma and despair that surrounds suicide and self-harm.
As Pieta House’s services are free, fundraisers such as Darkness into Light are vital to ensure that the organisation can continue to be available to those most in need of help. Yearly running costs are now at €1.3 million.
For more information log on to www.pieta.ie