A service that aims to prevent suicide could be set up in the midlands, possibly Laois, with the help of a new fundraiser launched in Mountmellick this week.
Joan Freeman, CEO of Pieta House, visited Mountmellick yesterday (Tuesday) to launch the first Darkness into Light walk in the town, where she spoke of her hopes of expanding to the midlands.
She said she was overwhelmed by the enthusiastic response she got at the launch at Mountmellick GAA Club, she told the Leinster Express.
“It was fantastic, a great turn-out, they were just so enthusiastic. It’s all about making it a big event, I hope it works and they get a thousand people out,” she said.
Pieta House are unique to Ireland, providing free professional counselling for anyone who has suicidal thoughts, has survived a suicide attempt or is self harming. They pride themselves in having no waiting list, and rely on fundraising events such as the dawn walks to pay their professional counsellors.
“We give one to one counselling. You ring up and make an appointment, then come to us. People can be seen maybe twice a week, or seven times a week if necessary. A crisis is usually shortlived. On average people see us maybe ten times over a few weeks, and we support and help them through that crisis. If long term, we refer them locally,” she explained.
Founded in Lucan in 2006 by Ms Freeman, a practicing psychologist, there are now three centres, with two more planned shortly for Galway and Cork and and hopes of more.
“We have been asked to open up in the midlands. Whatever about Laois, it has to be the most central place, it would be absolutely brilliant if we did. We aim to have a centre no more than 60km of every person in Ireland. For us to open anywhere, it has to be taken on board by the community. In Galway, the people invited us, found a premises and are now fundraising,” she said.
The Mountmellick walk is one of 14 to take place simultaneously across Ireland, symbolising the walk from the darkness to light. It is being organised by Susan and John Nelson, a young Dublin couple who now live in Silverwood, Mountmellick. Affected by a family suicide, they decided to host the walk in their adopted home town. The walk/run will take place at 4pm on Saturday morning, May 12. Participants will set off from a candlelit and music filled Mountmellick GAA Club, taking a 5km route of the town as the sun rises, returning for refreshments. Adult entry is €25 with a limited number of t-shirts available free, under 12s go free. For more information or a sponsorship card, call 086 4070692.
See next week’s Leinster Express for an interview with organisers John and Susan Nelson.