By Cian Molloy - 10 May, 2020
COVID-19, the lockdown and social isolation are resulting in more people calling Pieta House for help, says the charity's chief executive Elaine Austin.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic and the need for social distancing, Pieta House had to cancel dozens of Darkness Into Light events due to have taken place at daybreak across Ireland yesterday morning.
Instead, thousands of people organised their own private events, rising before dawn to witness the sunrise from their homes, their gardens or a good vantage point in their immediate locality. In addition to witnessing ‘a new dawn’, the early-rising participants pledged to make, or made, donations to the charity, which provides free therapy to those engaged in self-harm, or who find themselves thinking about suicide or who have been bereaved because of suicide.
The chief executive of Pieta house, Elaine Austin, says the coronavirus has increased the number of people who contact the organisation for help. “In February, March and April of last year we had 600 calls and texts, this year it’s 1,400. We have to consider that that’s associated with COVID-19.”
Normally, the annual Darkness into Light events raise €6m, so the charity was facing a funding crisis. It’s plight was highlighted on Friday’s The Late Late Show on RTE television and while the programme was on air more than €2m was donated to Pieta House by viewers. Among those appearing on the programme calling on the public to support the charity were: former President of Ireland Mary McAleese, U2 musician Adam Clayton, actor Pierce Brosnan, singers Mary and Frances Black and Mary Coughlan, button accordianist Sharon Shannon and astronaut Chris Hadfield
Many of those who organised their own Darkness into Light events posted their own photographs of yesterday’s sunrise on social media and tagged their posts with #DILSunriseAppeal and #DIL2020.
Among those who posted photos were members of the Dublin Fire Brigade in Donnybrook who walked 2.5km from their station to Sandymount Strand to watch the sun come up over Dublin Bay. They were shadowed by a fire tender during their walk in case an emergency required their immediate assistance.
If you would like to support Pieta house’s services, you can still make a donation via the website www.darknessintolight.ie or via the Lo-Call number 0818 767300.