Thousands join Pieta House for Darkness Into Light event

Now in its ninth year, the event aims to encourage people to talk about suicide and mental health issues

Thousands join Pieta House for Darkness Into Light event

ieta House’s annual Darkness Into Light fundraising and awareness event | Image: Rollingnews.ie

Over 150,000 people across Ireland took part in the annual Pieta House annual suicide awareness event this morning.

Darkness Into Light saw participants embark on a 5k symbolic walk or run - aimed at encouraging people to talk about suicide and mental health issues,

Now in its ninth year, the event kicked off at over 150 different locations around the island of Ireland - and across the world - at 4:15am this morning.

Since it began - in the Phoenix Park in Dublin in 2009 - Darkness Into Light has grown into a global movement against suicide.

In Ireland, almost 500 people die by suicide each year and funds raised at the event keep Pieta House’s counselling services free to those in suicidal crisis, people who engage in self-harm and those bereaved by suicide.

These people told Newstalk reporter Sean Reidy why they took part in the event at Dublin's Phoenix Park:

Pieta House CEO, Brian Higgins said the annual appeal now brings in about a third of the charity’s annual income.

“For anyone who may be suffering, who may have suicidal ideation or is engaging in self-harm, or if they feel isolated, Darkness Into Light is this phenomenal and very visible sign and gesture that your community is there to support you,” he said.

“The generosity of people who support Pieta House is incredible

“It’s that whole ‘pass it on’ mentality, where people give generously for someone else’s therapy and to allow us to keep it free for everyone.”

“None of us knows whether or when we’ll need that help or not.”

The Darkness Into Light Swim

Image: Teena Gates/Newstalk

Meanwhile in South County Dublin, more than a hundred brave souls lined the beach at Sandycove near the Forty Foot this morning for the Pieta House Darkness Into Light swim. 

There were choppy swells and a bracing wind as the swimmers lined the shore in the darkness at 4.30am - and prepared to follow a line of glow-sticks into the surf:

Last year 130,000 people 'shared the light,' helping promote suicide prevention and tackling the stigma that leads people to the doors of Pieta House centres.