Thousands to take part in Darkness Into Light across North West

Edel O'Donnell, organiser, with Derry Girls actress Jamie Lee O'Donnell who took part in the Darkness Into Light walk at dawn in Derry  in 2018.
Edel O'Donnell, organiser, with Derry Girls actress Jamie Lee O'Donnell who took part in the Darkness Into Light walk at dawn in Derry in 2018.

Thousands of people across the world will take part in ‘Darkness Into Light’ in the early hours of tomorrow morning, with everyone involved having their own reasons for taking part.

A number of the walks will take place simultaneously at 4.15 am across the North West - in Buncrana, Carndonagh, Strabane and Derry.

One of the organisers of the Derry walk, Edelle O’Donnell, knows more than most how the fundraiser benefits not just the charities involved, but also families, individuals and those living with mental illness.

Edelle’s aunt and nephew both died by suicide and she told the ‘Journal’ how she got involved with DIL to help give hope to others.

‘Darkness Into Light’ is organised each year for and by Pieta House, supported by Electric Ireland and is a global movement dedicated to ending suicide and supporting those who engage in self-harm. In Derry, the event will also raise funds for charity partner Foyle Search and Rescue.

Edelle said her reasons for taking part are close to her heart.

“My nephew, Ryan McAleer, was just 18 when he died on New Year’s Eve, 2011. I also had an aunt - my mum’s sister - who died when I was in my 20s. At that time, it wasn’t really talked about that much and my mum found it really hard.”

Edelle got involved in DIL when the Healthy Living Centre in Creggan, where she works, was approached about helping to set up a Derry event.

Edelle couldn’t take part the first year but when it came around again her boss, Seamus Heaney, who was one of the organisers, knew she had an interest and asked her to join.

Edelle continued: “We weren’t able to help my nephew and the reason I do this is that it gives hope to someone else.”

Edelle said that people from across the community take part, including those whose lives have been affected by suicide and those whose lives have not been, but who want to help raise funds and awareness of mental health. She added how many family members and friends of those who died by suicide find great comfort in undertaking the walk.

She regularly receives messages from those looking to take part and said many people tell her their own stories.

“I’d love to chat to every single person who takes part,” she maintained.

The Derry walk begins at 4.15 am at Sainsburys cafe. Edelle also heaped praise on the staff of the cafe, who open in the early hours and also thanked those who donate items like buns.

Edelle said Pieta House and Foyle Search & Rescue were amazing services for the North West and well deserving of the funds raised. Registration for all ‘Darkness Into Light’ walks is still open at www.darknessintolight.ie. At this stage, T-shirts for the event may come afterwards, but everyone who takes part will get one. If you would like to speak to someone at Pieta House, see www.pieta.ie.

A doctor or psychiatric referral is not needed and the service is free.