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Pieta House to bring suicide prevention event to Britain

Pieta House founder Joan Freeman, right, says it is important to offer the free service over here

ONE of Ireland’s leading anti-suicide awareness events is coming to Britain for the first time next year.

The news comes in the same week that a north London GAA community tragically buried a young mother-of-two who took her own life.

For the last five years Pieta House has run its Darkness Into Light walk each May in various locations across Ireland.

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Now, in conjunction with the Kerry Association London, the Irish suicide prevention charity will bring the event to the capital.

Representatives of Pieta House outlined their plans to bring the walk to Britain at a special gathering at the Crown Moran Hotel in Cricklewood, North West London.

A group of Darkness into Light runners in Limerick this year

The plans, which are currently under consideration by the local council, hope to bring Darkness Into Light to London on May 10 — the same weekend that the event will run in Ireland.

Noel O’Sullivan, chairman of the London Gaelic Games County Board, spoke about the need for more awareness on the issue and outlined a recent tragedy within the Irish community.

He said: “This week I will attend a funeral in north London of an Irish woman, from within the Gaelic Games community, who has committed suicide and who has left two young boys alone at Christmas time.

“That is the situation we are in.”

He added: “We have seen too much of this in the last few years and it is getting serious.

London Gaelic Games will work with other associations to get this message across and we will stress the importance of getting this off the ground in the coming months.”

This year, people in 20 towns across Ireland participated in the 5km walk, which starts at 4am and finishes just as day is breaking.

Over 7,500 people took part in Dublin’s Phoenix Park, with 40,000 people around Ireland in total.

Darkness Into Light is set go international next year with Sydney, Australia and London the first two overseas centres preparing to host it in May.

Pieta House, the centre for the prevention of self-harm or suicide, opened in Lucan, County Dublin in January 2006

Pieta House founder Joan Freeman also explained the history of the charity walk.

She revealed shocking statistics and the need to heighten awareness of self-harm and suicide.

“When we use the figures given to us by the Central Statistics Office this day next week 10 more people are going to die in Ireland due to suicide,” she said.

“Eight of them will be men and because of this terrible tragedy we have created this wonderful, free service, for people who have attempted suicide.”

She added: “It is important to bring this message to London. I am aware of six people from within the Irish community who have taken their own lives in London in the last few years and want to offer our services, free of charge, to the people here.

“We want to equip and educate every single Irish person to the signs of suicide.”

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