Darkness into Light
Toward the end of last year, the Irish Independent newspaper published an article on their website discussing suicide in Ireland. The headline read ‘Suicide rates hit an all-time high as 554 take own lives’. The article cited 2011 research results from the Central Statics Office that paint a concerning picture. The study revealed the highest number of suicides Ireland has experienced since records began in 2000. Furthermore, some researchers feel that incidents of suicide are underreported and the actual number is closer to 600.
The study also showed that men were five times more likely to take their own lives than women with 83% of the suicide victims that year were male. Most of those male deaths were fell within the 45-64 age group. Despite the frequency of suicidal deaths, Ireland was just below the European average but stiill had teh fourth highest rate for suicide in young men ged 15 to 24. The highest number of deaths by suicide in women was among those aged between 24 and 44.
In reaction to a personal experience of suicide and the worrying national trends in suicide, Joan Freeman – a Dublin based psychologist established Pieta House in 2006. This is a charitable organization that raises awareness of suicide and self-harm and offers direct therapeutic services to those impacted by these issues. Since then Pieta House has opened an additional 9 crisis centers throughout Ireland and served 4,000 people in 2013. With three more centers billed to open in the near future, Pieta House is close to achieving its vision of having a suicide crisis centre within 100 kilometres of everyone in Ireland. Having achieved so much in Ireland, Pieta House is now looking to extend its mission to raise awareness of suicide and self-harm among Irish communities overseas.
On May 9th 2015, Chicago Irish Immigrant Support will partner with Pieta House to host a Darkness into Light 5k walk/run along the Chicago lakefront. Pieta House has been hosting Darkness into light walks/runs as their flagship awareness and fundraising events for several years. This year the Darkness into Light walk/run will take place in over 80 venues in Ireland, the UK, Australia, and for the first time, the US.
The walk kicks off at 4.30am on Saturday 9th May along the lakefront while it still dark, but as participants finish the 5k route, dawn is breaking across Lake Michigan. This symbolizes the journey of those who are feeling suicidal from the darkness of despair into the bright hope of a new day. We would love to have the entire Irish community get behind the Darkness in Light event and the important work that is done by Pieta House. The walk is an opportunity for us to raise awareness of suicide and self-harm within the Irish community and to show our support to those amongst us struggling with these issues.
Registration is not currently open but we are hoping to generate interest in the event and solicit sponsorship. If you or someone you know would like to be a sponsor and help to offset the considerable expense of staging the event please reach out to me – Paul Dowling – at the CIIS office on 773-282-8445. Pieta house and CIIS are inviting all members of our community to walk with us!
Lastly, Chicago Irish Immigrant Support would like to wish you all a very happy St Patrick’s day!
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