SUNRISE APPEAL: Denis and Marie O’Carroll, Killarney, whose son Nathan tragically took his life at just 14-years-old in 2007 are raising awareness to donate to the Darkness into Light Sunrise appeal. Photo: Valerie O’Sullivan

By Sean Moriarty

This weekend should have been the biggest fundraising event of the year for Pieta House, instead, the mental health charity is fighting for its own existence.

In the early hours of tomorrow (Saturday) 250,000 people across the world, including Killarney, would walk together highlighting the fight against suicide and self-harm.

The annual Darkness Into Light charity walks are the main annual source of funding for Pieta.

However, due to the ongoing global pandemic, this year’s walks cannot go ahead as planned but Pieta House is hopeful replacement events can run on October 3.

Darkness Into Light is now a worldwide event but the Killarney early morning walk was the first such event outside Dublin.

Muckross woman Marie O’Carroll, has spearheaded ‘Nathan’s Walk Darkness Into Light’ since 2011 to remember her son Nathan who was only 14 when he took his own life.

The charity said that the cancellation of all the fundraising events has resulted in a loss of €6.5m.

Pieta House has been forced to cut staff salaries by up to 30 percent and announced 28 redundancies for clinical support workers.

The organising committee of the London event is Killarney woman Tara Cronin.

“We were sorry that the walk cannot take place tomorrow in London,” she told the Killarney Advertiser. “We now have two walks in London and have started the planning for October already. Locally we have had great support for our charity partner Immigrant Counselling and Psychotherapy here in London that provides a similar service to Pieta. We will be showing our support for Pieta and the Sunrise appeal.”

Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, the public need for Pieta’s services was on the increase, with calls to Pieta’s helpline up 49 percent year on year while text messages to Pieta had increased by 46 percent. The funds raised from Darkness into Light helps to keep Pieta centres open, offering free therapy, the 24/7 helpline, and education and bereavement counselling for people in need of support.

In 2018, over 8,000 clients were supported with face-to-face therapy by Pieta experts. Since 2006, over 40,000 people received support from intervention and bereavement counselling services.

‘Sunrise Together’ to replace this weekend’s Darkness into Light

Pieta House is asking all its supporters to take part in an alternative event tomorrow morning (Saturday).

Instead of its annual Darkness Into Light walk, the charity is asking all participants and supporters to get up at 5.30am and watch the dawning of the day together.

“As a result of COVID-19, our helpline has seen an increase in calls from people all over the country who are in crisis right now with many others presenting with high anxiety. Funding from the public has never been more vital to keep Pieta’s door open. This will help fund our services, ensuring we can continue to support those in their darkest hours and to keep delivering our one-to-one counselling,” said Elaine Austin, CEO of Pieta.

“While we are devastated that we won’t come together physically on Saturday morning, we will share a special moment of togetherness by getting up at 5.30am and watching the sun rise. We would also appreciate if people can wear yellow or a previous year’s t-shirt that day to show support for those impacted by suicide.”

Just €20 can fund two life-saving calls to those who are in crisis. Join the conversation online using the hashtags #DIL2020 #DILSunriseAppeal and make a life-saving donation at