Sunday 15 September 2019

Over 200,000 dawn walkers take part in 'Darkness into Light' in venues across Ireland and worldwide

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar snaps the Darkness into Light run at the Phoenix Park. Credit: Leo Varadkar / Twitter
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar snaps the Darkness into Light run at the Phoenix Park. Credit: Leo Varadkar / Twitter Newsdesk Newsdesk

Over 200,000 people have taken part in the annual 'Darkness into Light' walks and runs across the country and worldwide.

The symbolic 5km walk promotes suicide prevention and looks to tackle the stigma that leads people to the doors of Pieta House centres.

Now in its 10th year, the charity walk took place in 180 venues across Ireland and worldwide. An estimated 200,000 people took part.

Together participants around the world walked over one million kilometers in a march against suicide, self-harm and the stigma associated with mental health.

Events took place across Ireland at 4.15am, as thousands walked a 5km route while the sun came up. Funds raised from the walk will go towards Pieta House's counselling services.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was one of the 15,000 dawn walkers who watched the sun rise in Dublin's Phoenix Park this morning. Dublin Bus organised a free early-morning shuttle service at Parkgate Street from 2am until 7am.

In Galway, yoga sessions kicked off the event at Salthill with an estimated 10,000 people taking part in the coastal walk.

Dawn walks also took place in Hong Kong; Wellington, New Zealand; Warsaw, Poland and Reykjavik, Iceland with the help of Irish people living abroad.

Last year Darkness Into Light raised €4.5million - one-third of Pieta House's annual income

Suicide is a leading cause of death, particularly in young people, both in Ireland and worldwide. Some 450 people took their own lives in 2016. The HSE estimated that there are about 12,000 attempted suicides each year in Ireland

Pieta House was founded in Lucan, Co Dublin, in 2006 and now has services right across Ireland. Pieta offers free counselling to those suffering from suicidal ideation, those who have been bereaved by suicide and people who are engaging in self-harm. In 2016 alone, almost 6,000 people came through their doors.

Pieta House offer a suicide bereavement liaison service and the freecall 24/7 suicide helpline 1800 247 247.

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