20,000 turn out in Cork for Darkness Into Light

20,000 turn out in Cork for Darkness Into Light

Taking part in the Darkness Into Light walk at UCC, in aid of Pieta House were: Evelyn Spillane, Model Farm Road; Emma Hanifin, Waterfall; Donna Gould, Blarney and Ellen Ryan, Wilton.  Picture: Denis Minihane

TWICE as many people in Cork are seeking help from suicide prevention charity Pieta House compared to this time last year.

This morning’s incredibly successful Darkness Into Light event saw more than 20,000 people take to the streets of the city and county to raise awareness about issues surrounding suicide and mental health.

Just 12 months ago, Pieta House in Bishopstown was seeing 40 clients a day. Now it sees between 80 and 90 people a day and is the busiest such facility in the entire country.

In this morning’s 5km run/walk, Cork participants included Oisín Kenny, a teenager who lost his mother, his uncle, and a friend to suicide, and Derek Collins, who lost his father to suicide less that two years ago.

Derek said he took part in the run to give back to Pieta House which provided family members with counselling after the sudden death.

“My Dad was in a bad place. He could have talked to me or to my brother or to my mam. But he didn’t. Sometimes people feel like there’s no help there at all. But there is. There’s always people who will listen. And sometimes that’s all people need, someone to reassure them that they’re not alone.”

A group taking part in the Ballincollig Darkness Into Light 5k walk/run in aid of Pieta House. Picture: Denis Minihane.
A group taking part in the Ballincollig Darkness Into Light 5k walk/run in aid of Pieta House. Picture: Denis Minihane.

Angela Horgan, Funding and Advocacy Coordinator with Pieta House Cork, said the service is under huge strain at the moment and is only barely keeping up with demand.

“We are seeing record numbers of clients. The Cork centre is the busiest in the country,” she said.

“The number of people we are seeing now compared to last year is definitely up. This time last year we were seeing maybe 40 to 45 clients a day. Now we're seeing up to 90 clients a day.” Currently, the service operates from 9am to 8pm from Monday to Thursday. Ms Horgan said if more funding became available it could open until 9pm from Monday to Friday, with services also available on Saturday and Sunday.

Meanwhile, Ballyphehane-based Independent Councillor Mick Finn advocated for another Pieta House in Cork, saying that the demand was definitely there for another one.

“Pieta House, to a large extent, is actually stepping in where the Government is not doing its job. You have a charity stepping into that role and providing mental health services,” he said.

“Pieta House is doing a fantastic job, but they're under huge pressure. People are now going on waiting lists which never was an issue before. I think if we are pushing people towards services for mental health then that means the services have to be there. So I would like to more resources made available to them, certainly.”

Anyone who may be affected by the issues raised and would like to talk to someone about them is encouraged to contact Pieta House or The Samaritans. 

Pieta House Cork is based at Highfield Lawn, Model Farm Road, Bishopstown and their phone number is 021 434 1400. The organisation’s 24/7 freephone helpline is 1800 247 247. 

You can also text Pieta House on 51444, though normal text message charges apply for this service. 

The Samaritans can be contacted on their free 24/7 helpline at 116 123.

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