IT was an occasion filled with symbolism and emotion for the 3,000 people from all over Leinster who came together at Naas racecourse in the early hours of last Saturday morning, for the annual Darkness into Light walk.
The event is organised at venues around the country in aid of Pieta House, the suicide and self-harm crisis support centre. With the ‘darkness into light’ concept essentially symbolising hope, this fundraiser is drawing bigger crowds year on year, with the turnout in Naas last Saturday morning more than double the 1,200 who participated in 2012. Nationally, more than 35,000 people walked this year.
The crowds gathered at Naas racecourse from 3.30am, for the 5km walk, starting in darkness and moving into the light of dawn.
One of the local organisers, Maud Nolan, who lost her son Ross to suicide in 2008, said that she became involved “to try and prevent other families from going through the heartache and devastation suicide causes”. She described the event as being “full of symbolism and healing”, providing an environment where people can remember their loved ones and know they are not alone in their grief.
Another one of those involved was Sandra Banim, who used Pieta House’s services after suffering from severe depression and attempting suicide back in 2009. Saying that the support and counselling received had literally “saved her life” Sandra added that she now wants to “give something back”.
Pieta House was founded by psychologist Joan Freeman in Lucan in 2006 and there are now four Pieta House centres throughout Dublin, one in Limerick and one in Roscrea. Three more new centres will open in this year in Tuam, Cork and Castleisland and the intention is to continue expanding.
The ultimate aim is that no-one in Ireland should be more than 100 kilometres from a Pieta House centre where they can avail of the clinical services in their time of crisis. To date, over 8,000 people nationally have been helped by Pieta House.
Commenting after the event, another of the organisers, Tom Gannon, commended the support and generosity of all, including Naas racecourse and various local businesses and clubs, local public representatives, the gardaí and Order of Malta.
Anyone seeking more information about the work of Pieta House can log onto www.pieta.ie.