CHILDREN as young as six have sought support from suicide awareness charity Pieta House, founder Joan Freeman has said.
Speaking at the launch of its annual Darkness into Light fundraiser, Ms Freeman said that 4,000 people have attended the charity’s nine centres nationwide last year.
“Last year alone, we saw over 4,000 people. We saw children as young as six years of age to people in their 80s. That is wonderful news, as it means there are these 4,000 people who went to a place for help, and received it,” she said.
The annual Darkness into Light walk will take place for a fifth year in a row in Limerick, kicking off at 4.15am from Thomond Park on Saturday, May 10.
After almost 6,000 people took the six mile walk last year, Ms Freeman has challenged the local committee to bring that figure to more than 10,000 people.
Entry to the walk costs at most €25, and all the money raised will go to funding Pieta House’s centre in Mungret.
Ms Freeman was joined at the launch of the walk in the Clarion Hotel by Mayor Kathleen Leddin, the Unity Gospel Choir, and members of Limerick’s football and hurling panels.
Hurling forward Seanie Tobin said: “It is a fantastic event to raise awareness of suicide. The more work that goes into it, the better it is going to be.”
He said he would be taking part in the walk, which is taking place in both Limerick City and Newcastle West this year.
Mayor Leddin was full of praise for the charity.
“They have done a huge amount of work. Joan Freeman is a very inspirational lady. They have worked very hard for the last couple of years. It will be an amazing event. I might be there at the start, but I hate to say, six miles is too much for me,” she said.
Darkness into Light begins in darkness, and significantly, the walk finishes as dawn breaks.
Pieta House is this year linking with the Mind Our Men campaign, which aims to reduce male suicide.
They are asking participants to bring a male friend or relative with them.
“This time next week, ten more people will have died by suicide, and eight of them will be men. That’s somebody’s brother, someone’s father, or someone’s best friend,” Ms Freeman said.
For more information on the walk, telephone 061 484444.