Irish charity organising suicide-awareness walk in Copenhagen

Since originating in Ireland, the walk has become a truly global event

As one of its first acts in 2015, the current Danish government announced it would cut funding from the suicide helpline Livslinien, forcing it to discontinue its night-time opening.

Politiken reported at the time that this measure was just one of three proposed budget cuts relating to suicide prevention, totalling 43 million kroner in the period up to 2018.

READ ALSO: Danish children calling suicide hotline more frequently

Statistics from the Centre for Suicide Research show that there were 605 registered suicides in Denmark in 2013, which on average is almost two every day. This is three times the number of people who die in traffic accidents.

Lighting a torch for awareness
In order to raise awareness of the problem, on Saturday May 6, Copenhagen will host the first ‘Darkness Into Light’ suicide awareness walk/social run.

The 5 km walk starts outside the Copenhagen Planetarium on Gammel Kongevej at 4 am, and by the time the sun comes up at 05:16, the walkers should have completed a circuit of the Lakes.

The first Darkness Into Light event took place in 2009 at Dublin’s Phoenix Park and attracted 400 people. Last year, the number had grown to 130,000 marching in 150 cities worldwide.

A focus on hope
Eimear O’Herlihy, an Irish woman living in Denmark, was one of the prime movers in bringing the event to Copenhagen.

“There’s a need to shed more light on psychiatric illness and mental vulnerability,” she said

“Everyone says what a tremendous experience it is to walk together with a lot of other people in the quiet morning time and feel the fellowship around a subject, which for many is still taboo.”

O’Herlihy herself has first-hand experience through a close friend, who for many years lived with paranoid schizophrenia, fear and PTSD, but has since been cured.

Participants pay a registration fee to take part in the walk: 185.50 kroner for adults, 111.50 kroner for over-65s, the unemployed and students. Children can do the walk for free.

The Danish version of the event will see 50 percent of the proceeds going to the non-profit organisation Psykiatrifonden, with the remainder going to the Irish charity Pieta House.

No easy answers
Niels Adler, the press officer of Psykiatrifonden, is very happy to raise awareness of psychic vulnerability.

“Unfortunately, there are no easy solutions or quick cures for psychiatric vulnerability and disease and many people feel powerless when they are hit. An event such as this is an opportunity to do something and do something together with other people,” he said.

How to register
Should you wish to take part, you need to register (anytime up until May 6 is fine; by April 24 will get you a t-shirt) and you will then have to bring proof of registration with you.

At some walks, due to health and safety reasons, each participant must carry a torch, but this won’t be necessary in Copenhagen.

Find out more signing up here or learn more about the march here.

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