Caoimhe Alliot-Stenson, Emma Farrell and Lynda Jacob want to spark discussion about mental health
Photo: Mike Zenari
Renowned in Ireland, the Darkness Into Light walk to raise awareness of suicide and self-harm is coming to Luxembourg for the first time this year thanks to the efforts of three Irish women.
The initiative was first launched in 2009 as a fundraiser for the Dublin-based Pieta House, which provides freely accessible counselling to people suffering from suicidal ideation or engaging in self-harm, as well as those bereaved by suicide. Pieta House now has 240 qualified therapists in 15 centres around Ireland. The walk is symbolic as its starts before sunrise and ends as dawn breaks.
“It really struck a chord because I think it can help people at any level,” says Emma Farrell, one of the founders of the Luxembourg project. “It doesn’t have to be as drastic as having suicidal thoughts, it can be the whole symbolism of coming out of darkness into a brighter place. Mental health problems don’t discriminate, it can affect young or old people. It can be people who you look at and think, ‘oh, don’t they have the best life’.”
Emma was put in touch with Lynda Jacob and Caoimhe Alliot-Stenson by a mutual friend who now lives and works in Brussels and had helped out with the first event in the Belgian capital in 2018. They immediately felt a connection. “We complement each other,” says Lynda. “We each have something to bring to the organisation effort and we get on really well.”
Emma concurs: “If it wasn’t the three of us together, I don’t think it would work. Because we have exactly the same goal.” In addition, they have brought in other trusted contacts to help out at committee level, and further volunteers who will be in the field at the event itself have also been drafted.
“The most important thing is that we start a discussion about mental health and suicide and self-harm, which is a huge problem in the younger community. People need to know they will not be judged and that there are others they can speak with,” says Emma. “If it were any other illness, people can talk about it. Some are even delighted to talk about it,” she quips.
Emma explains that the event aims to be all-inclusive, and that it is different from raising money for charity at a running race, for example. “It will bring hope to people.” To appeal to as many people as possible, the organisers have involved two local agencies--the Service Information et Prévention of D’Ligue and SOS Détresse - Mir hëllefen iwwer Telefon an online.
They will also benefit from the fund raising. The local angle also ensures that Darkness Into Light is not just another Irish event in Luxembourg. “It will help some people who were maybe unaware of these organisations discover them. They need support, because it takes 18 months to train the consultants who answer distress calls,” Lynda explains.
Darkness Into Light takes place on 11 May, at 5 am, from Altrimenti Cultural Centre, Luxembourg City.