Gallery: A look back at Darkness Into Light 2019
They walked from Adelaide to Abu Dhabi, from Clonmel to Calgary, from Reykjavik to Ringsend - all in the name of hope.
Thousands upon thousands of people took part in Darkness Into Light 2019, proudly supported by Electric Ireland, rising before the crack of dawn in the name of suicide prevention. Pieta House’s flagship annual fundraiser has come a long way since its first walk.
What began with a procession of just 400 willing participants in Dublin’s Phoenix Park a decade ago is now a massive global movement, taking place in 19 countries over five continents.
Almost 200,000 people are believed to have taken part in the 2019 event across the planet, starting their 5km walk, or run in many cases, at 4.15am on Saturday May 11.
Record numbers turned out in multiple venues, with the Irish Embassy in the United Arab Emirates congratulating those who had got up early to take part.
Johnny and Gertie Fox lost their son Fergal to suicide in 2008, and every year Johnny – part of the committee that started Darkness Into Light – stands at the finish line at the Phoenix Park and cheers on everyone who crosses the line from the first runner to the final finisher.
Last Saturday, the sense of community was unmistakeable at the place where it all started, with more than 12,000 walking in the name of suicide prevention in the Phoenix Park. It was a truly incredible morning for anyone who attended.
Money raised by Darkness Into Light funds Pieta House’s counselling, therapy and bereavement services across their 15 Irish centres, their 24-hour suicide helpline (1800 247 247) and Resilience Academy (youth schools programme).
As an organisation, Pieta House has helped more than 40,000 people – all dealing with suicidal thoughts or self-harming - since opening their doors in 2006 and continues to play a massive role in changing attitudes towards mental health both in Ireland and overseas.
“Darkness Into Light unites us as people from rural communities to major cities, across the globe in a spirit of solidarity, comfort and compassion to give and build hope,” said Pieta House CEO Elaine Austin.
“It connects us all creating the energy for change, in which, suicidal thoughts, self-harm and stigma can be replaced with hope, self-care and acceptance.
“It is vital for the delivery of our services and for raising awareness.
“We are so thankful to have had so many people walking with us today from Darkness Into Light. I want to thank the volunteers, supporters, our partner Electric Ireland and all the participants for their involvement in this year’s event.
“However, the journey continues beyond the finish line of the walk. It is vital that we continue to build hope.”
From its humble beginnings when it opened its doors in Lucan in 2006, Pieta House has now grown to over 270 therapists and administration staff. It also offers suicide bereavement counselling for those who have lost loved ones.
All of its services are free of charge, and a doctor’s referral or psychiatric report is not required to access one of Pieta House’s network of counsellors.
With over 90pc of Pieta House’s revenue coming in via fundraising, Darkness Into Light is essential in maintaining such a vital public service.
This year’s Darkness Into Light was launched with a theme of The Power of Hope to not only drive support for Pieta House, but also to highlight the importance of empowering hope in one another.
Electric Ireland has been in partnership with Pieta House since DIL 2013, growing the movement from just 20 venues to one of the most renowned - and widely attended - charity events across the world.
“Darkness Into Light is a true demonstration of the power of hope as people come together to offer support and solidarity to those who have been impacted by suicide; and today’s event was as moving and powerful as ever,” said ESB Executive Director Marguerite Sayers.
If you couldn’t make it to this year’s Darkness Into Light, you can still support this great cause with a donation. Simply visit the Darkness Into Light website and click donate.