The first ever Darkness into Light walk in aid of the suicide prevention service, Pieta House took place in Mountmellick recently. With over 350 people participating, the event was labelled a huge success, by organisers.
The aim of the Darkness into Light initiative is to remember all who have died by suicide, whilst highlighting the issue and hopefully preventing it.
THE participants, comprising men women and children assembled in early dawn in candlelight at Mountmellick GAA pitch to walk or run the five kilometre route through the town centre.
The Mountmellick event was one of 14 similar events across Ireland, all to raise funds for, Pieta House.
Established in 2006, Pieta House is a non-profit organisation providing a treatment programme for those with suicidal or self-harm tendencies.
They are now considering opening an outreach centre in the midlands.
The Darkness into Light initiative has grown rapidly since its inception in 2008, with thousands of people now taking part annually.
The take up over the four years denotes the very real problem that suicide is in Irish society. Such is the scale of the issue that almost everyone has now been affected to some extent, or at least knows someone who has taken their own lives.
Yet, suicide still remains a largely taboo subject, although society ha become more open about it.
Only by confronting and openly talking about it in communities and elsewhere can we hope to make any progress in dealing with it.
The Darkness into Light walks and Pieta’s work generally are very worthwhile movements on this road.
The issue of suicide is of course tied into the broader debate about mental health issues. The Mental Health Reform held a meeting in Portlaoise this week.
Mental Health Reform is the national coalition that promotes improved and prioritised mental health services in Ireland, and implementation of the Government’s mental health policy ‘A Vision for Change’.
The group wants to hear from anyone with an interest in mental health about their experience of mental health and related services, and how these could be improved.
Mental Health Reform is seeking an improvement in services, and full implementation of ‘A Vision for Change’ implementation of which they claim has been has been “torturously slow.”
The group has urged the Government to make the next four years count to improve services.
As a society we need a debate and openess regarding these issues.
Suicide is a critical problem, which often does not get enough attention or publicity. It needs to be tackled and reduced.