What started out as a walk involving 400 participants in Dublin’s Phoenix Park in 2009 has grown to become a major international charity event, with 180,000 people signing up last year. Pieta House’s Darkness Into Light aims to end the stigma around self-harm and suicide by providing vital services. Since Pieta House opened, 35,000 people have been helped.
Darkness Into Light participants are due to grow to around 200,000 this weekend.
To promote the event, Electric Ireland hosted a Darkness Into Light breakfast in the InterContinental Hotel in Ballsbridge for staff and friends in Irish business. Hosted by RTE presenter Miriam O’Callaghan, a panel discussion included Pieta House’s Brian Higgins and Maguerite Kiely, ESB chief executive Pat O’Doherty and Time to Fly founder Neil O’Brien.
Higgins is the current holder of Marketing.ie‘s Marketer of the Year award.
They spoke about the development of the service, mindfulness and mental health in the workplace, Darkness into Light and the importance Pieta House now holds in Irish society. O’Doherty spoke about the work by ESB staff in ensurings support for anyone who needs to talk, through the Employee Assistance Programme and counselling helpline and the participation of staff in the walk itself over the years.
The ESB’s Energy for Generations Fund has raised over €6.74 million for suicide prevention to date. Last year alone, ESB funded 48 mental health/suicide projects costing €380,000. Higgins reminded us of how far Irish society has come in removing the stigma associated with suicide, self-harm and mental health, from something that was illegal and never spoken of to an approachable topic where we seek to be more aware of other people’s emotional welfare.
What came as a shock to the audience was Kiely’s disclosure of the age of some of the clients who reach out to Pieta House for help. As a clinical director and head of child and adolescence services, she said a growing number of people as young as eight years old are being helped by Pieta House. She said early intervention is such an important issue.
Anyone interested can register for Darkness Into Light this Saturday, May 12 at 4.15am and help prevent suicide in Ireland. Visit www.darknessintolight.ie to find your nearest location. If you, or a loved one, ever need help, call Pieta House on its freephone number, 1800 247 247.