The Darkness Into Light event, which raises funds and awareness for suicide and self-harm prevention, has been taking place on an annual basis since 2009, and today’s was the biggest yet.
The 5 km walk takes place every year on May 7th and begins at 4.15 am. It is organised so that the majority of participants cross the finish line just as dawn is breaking. The concept is to signify that there will always be a brighter day ahead, no matter how dark things may seem.
Whilst only 200 people took part in the 2009 event, over 120,000 lined the streets of over 100 spots around Ireland in the early hours of this morning, making it a record turnout.
The Darkness Into Light walk went global a few years ago and this year saw a number of international events take place in locations such as the USA (San Francisco), Australia (Bondi Beach, Sydney and Perth), The UK (London), Iceland (Reykjavik) and Abu Dhabi.
The aim is to raise funds for Pieta House, which has almost a dozen centres in Ireland and one in New York. Founder Joan Freeman spoke to a crowd at Dublin’s Phoenix Park walk this morning:
“To feel the energy and the support of 120,000 people at our back is overwhelming. This is the Irish at their very best and it gives us the courage and confidence to continue doing the work of Pieta House. The relationship between Pieta House and the community, although forged in tragedy, provides so much hope for individuals and families throughout the country.”
Ireland has an incredibly high suicide rate and has faced recent cuts to mental health funding from the government, leading to protests and dissatisfaction at the lack of resources. Fortunately, the topic is one which is being discussed in great detail at present, thanks largely in part to today’s event.