VIDEO: Thousands walk from darkness into the light for Pieta House

More than 100,000 people took part in 80 dawn walks around the world to raise funds and awareness for Irish suicide prevention charity Pieta House.

It will use some of the proceeds of its annual Darkness Into Light event to extend its network of crisis centres to New York. It has 10 centres in Ireland for people with suicidal ideation or those engaging in self-harm, offering free services that require no medical referrals.

The 4.15am start on Saturday saw tens of thousands take to streets across Ireland for a 5km walk in solidarity for suicide prevention.

However, an international dimension to the event had seen around 4,000 people walking in Melbourne and Perth, Australia, hours earlier. Walks also took place in Glasgow, London, and Manchester, while around 1,700 more participated in the early hours of Saturday in New York, Chicago, and Toronto.

In Dublin, the flagship walk took place in Phoenix Park, where Pieta House founder Joan Freeman said the organisation’s intention has always been to save lives and change the conversation around suicide and self-harm.

“It’s been nine years and we’ve come a long way towards reaching that goal,” she said. “However, people are still afraid to face the reality that they may know someone who’s at risk of suicide or self-harm.

“You, the people, are the most important component of all in the fight against suicide,” she told participants.

It was one of four events in Dublin, with six organised in Cork and three in Kerry. Among those taking part were Cork hurler and mental health campaigner Conor Cusack, Ireland rugby players Jack McGrath, and Orla Fitzsimons, RTÉ personality Eoghan McDermott, Fair City actress Rachel Pilkington, and Dublin footballers, including four-time All-Star Paul Flynn.

Organisers said large numbers registered on the morning and it will be a couple of weeks before the sums raised are known.

Of more than 17,500 people supported to date by Pieta House’s therapeutic services and other assistance, 5,000 sought help last year. It will set up its first pilot service in New York this summer, as part of plans to reach out to Irish diaspora who may need its services.

The US service will be run from a room in the Irish Immigrant Centre in Queens and there are wider plans for international expansion of Pieta House.

DISCOVER MORE CONTENT LIKE THIS


Lifestyle

After years of saying no, Patrick Stewart tells Georgia Humphreys why he finally agreed to reprise his role as Jean-Luc PicardPatrick Stewart on boldly returning for Star Trek Picard

Cork teenager Jessie Griffin is launching a new comic-book series about her own life. She tells Donal O’Keeffe about her work as a comic artist, living with Asperger’s, and her life-changing time with the Cork Life CentrePicture perfect way of sharing Jessie’s story

Sorting out Cork people for agesAsk Audrey: The only way to improve air quality in Douglas is to move it upwind from Passage West

The Lighthouse is being hailed as one of the best — and strangest — films of the year. Its director tells Esther McCarthy about casting Robert Pattinson, and why he used 100-year-old lensesGoing against the grain: Robert Eggers talks about making his latest film The Lighthouse

More From The Irish Examiner