MANY people taking part in Darkness into Light at the weekend had deep personal reasons for completing the walk.
Up to 10,000 people gathered outside Thomond Park in the early hours of Saturday morning for the symbolic event for the suicide prevention charity Pieta House, which has a centre in Mungret. Thousands more took part in Kilmallock, Newcastle West and for the first time this year, Murroe.
Katie Keane, 22, from Dooradoyle, completed the six-kilometre route in the city with her boyfriend Kelvin.
“I have been a patient in Pieta House, and put simply, they have changed my life. They have done amazing work with me, and they really need more money to help people like me who are in dark places,” she said.
Brian O'Connor from Thomondgate paid the money to do the walk for charity following the support a friend received from Pieta House.
“Our good friend has been to Pieta House in Dublin 14 times due to an issue he had with chronic depression. Finally, he is over it. But we want to get out there and say to people: if you have an issue, get out and talk about it,” said Brian, who walked with his friend Martin Doyle.
Twenty-five year old Ciara Tutty from Raheen added: “It’s a massive event for Limerick. The suicide rate is so high here. It’s an issue which hits home for everyone. It has a really good meaning, walking into sunlight.”
For David Neeson, Dooradoyle, who travelled with sister Claire and their dog Roxy, there is a need to tackle the taboo around suicide.
“I hope this event might make people realise it is okay to talk. It’s okay to express themselves. There are close to 10,000 people here to show they care. A lot of these people will have been directly affected by suicide,” David told the Limerick Leader.
Nurse Sheena Connolly from Monaleen has seen first hand the effects suicide has on families, due to her work as an intensive care nurse at University Hospital Limerick.
“It’s something you’d come into contact with every day. The impact it has on families is devastating, and you just have to try and support them as best you can. It is so inspiring to see such a big turnout, but it’s also quite sad and poignant,” she said.
Sean Boland, walking with his dog Honey added: “It's such a terrible tragedy when people kill themselves. This is to help out and show that there is help available to people. A lot of people empathise with families who have lost people.”
Now in its seventh year in Limerick, it is estimated around €130,000 was raised for Pieta House, which has a centre in Mungret. All the money raised locally will remain in the area.
“We get unbelievable support from the people of Limerick. They always come out in their thousands to support this event. It is just overwhelming and unbelievable. It’s just getting bigger and bigger. Every year is always emotional for so many people,” said Kieran O’Brien, national events manager for Pieta House after the walk had reached a finish.