A fundraiser being held both in the city and in Tuam this month will raise funds for a local suicide and self-harm crisis centre which has reached out to more than 70 people since it opened five months ago.
The Darkness into Light event begins at 4.15am on Saturday May 10 when thousands of people will walk or run a 5km route while dawn is breaking for Pieta House at Bishop Street, Tuam.
The Galway city walk/run - which is in its third year - begins at Leisureland, Salthill while the Tuam event starts from the Palace Grounds swimming complex.
Joan Freeman, the founder and chief executive of Pieta House, says she is “thrilled” that almost 1,500 people have already registered for the fundraisers. She is expecting an even “bigger bump” in numbers in the next week.
She says registration figures nationally for this year’s event are more than three times higher than they were in 2013.
“This is a great testament to the commitment of the Irish public in tackling suicide in this country.”
Speaking recently at the official opening of Pieta House West - one of four new centres opened by the organisation within the past year - Ms Freeman, a psychologist, accused the government of ignoring Ireland’s suicide crisis.
“At Pieta House, we are dealing with almost 60 new cases every week and each week another 10 people are dying by suicide. If the government gave suicide the same attention and resources it gives to death on our roads, imagine the difference this would make to communities around Ireland.”
She described the subject of suicide as a “warm blanket used by politicians during the cold days of campaigning, only to be shrugged off when elected”.
She said the Darkness into Light fundraising event, which will involve almost 100,000 people nationally walking for suicide prevention, will send a strong message to the government.
Pieta House West is the result of an extensive two-year fundraising campaign across Galway, Roscommon and Mayo which raised in excess of €350,000.
The main driving force behind it was John Concannon, the Kilconly born founder of JFC Manufacturing in Tuam. He has factories in Ireland, the UK, Poland and South Africa. He was inspired by a visit to Pieta House in Lucan while filming RTÉ’s The Secret Millionaire.
“The opening of Pieta House West is the manifestation of what communities can achieve when they come together and work towards a common goal,” says Mr Concannon.
“This centre will belong to the people of the west of Ireland and I want everyone to know that support is there in times of crisis. Sincerest thanks to everyone in Galway, Roscommon and Mayo who has helped make this happen.”
Pieta House is urging people taking part in its walk/run to register in advance online or at one of the pre-registration events at the Eyre Square Centre from 5pm to 8pm today (Thursday ) and Friday and from 10am to 5pm on Saturday.
Online registration is available at www.darknessintolight.ie For further information, contact Tom McEvoy on (061 ) 484448.
Pieta House provides a professional, one-to-one free therapeutic service for people thinking about suicide or engaging in self-harm. A doctor’s referral or a psychiatric report is not required. It is open six days a week from Monday to Saturday. For further information telephone (093 ) 25586 or log on to www.pieta.ie