a LIMERICK Rose and a Government minister will be leading up to 1,000 people in a symbolic walk next week to raise awareness about mental health issues and remember those who have died by suicide.
Labour minister for housing Jan O’Sullivan and Limerick Rose Suzanne O’Brien will be among those leaving the city centre for a 5km walk at 4am to raise funds for the country’s only dedicated charity for suicide prevention.
“There’s something very special about starting the walk in the dark and arriving in the light. I did the walk the first year and would support everyone to come along and support what is a fantastic cause,” she said.
The number of people seeking suicide prevention services in Limerick continues to climb, the founder of Pieta House, Joan Freeman, has said.
Ms Freeman, who opened their centre in Limerick a year and a half ago, said due to demand they are planning to extend their opening hours in the Mungret centre to Saturdays and several nights a week.
She was speaking at the launch of their dawn walk, ‘Darkness into Light’ in No. 1 Pery Square, which takes place on Saturday, May 12, leaving from Arthur’s Quay at 4am.
“The demand for Limerick has increased so much that we are now opening on a Saturday and two nights a week. But that’s good news because we are so happy with the response from Limerick.
“I think Limerick, more than any other place where we’ve opened, is not afraid of looking at suicide in the eye and they’re not afraid to seek help,” she told the Limerick Leader.
Since their foundation in Dublin six years, the charitable organisation has seen and helped over 6,000 people at risk of suicide, including the families of those who have died by suicide.
Ms Freeman said the people who seek their confidential support, free of charge, range in ages from six to 83 years.
“Without a doubt we have saved lives, but we have only done it with the support of people in Limerick and Dublin,” she said.
This is the third year the ‘Darkness into Light’ walk will be held, taking in 14 venues this year.
Some 400 people in Limerick took part in this symbolic walk last year, and it’s hoped that closer to 1,000 will walk in solidarity this year.
“I have never seen a community embrace our service like Limerick has, or have so many fundraising events,” she added.
Last year nearly 350 people contacted Pieta House in Limerick, and 56.4% of these were from Limerick.
To register for Darkness into Light 2012, or to seek help, visit www.pieta.ie.
The centre in Limerick, where sponsorship cards can be obtained, can be contacted on 061 484444.
There is free parking in the city for anyone doing the walk, between 3.30am and 6am in Howley’s Quay and the city centre car park on Thomas Street.