By Bill Parry
More than 500 people will gather before dawn Saturday in Flushing Meadows Corona Park for the 2nd annual Darkness into Light 5K walk-run to raise funds and increase suicide prevention services in the United States.
Pieta House, a Long Island City-based nonprofit, is hosting the event that gets underway at 4 a.m. while it is still dark, and crosses the finish line as dawn is breaking. It symbolizes the work that is done at Pieta House, bringing people from their darkest hours to a brighter future, hope and unity. Darkness into Light events draw thousand in cities across Ireland, where last year it had the fourth highest rate of suicide among teens in the European Union.
The Irish community will come together in force to fight against suicide and support one another in nine cities across the United States, including Boston, Chicago and San Francisco. Irish Senator Joan Freeman, a psychologist, opened Pieta House in Dublin in 2006 to provide therapeutic services at no charge to more than 25,000 Irish men, women and children who have threatened self-harm or suicide.
“We are calling upon people around the world to join in our crusade to save lives,” Freeman said. “People who join Darkness into Light will help heighten awareness about mental health issues while providing financial support needed to expand our services, internationally.”
Freeman worked with Irish Organizations to found Pieta’s first U.S. operation, which opened in September at the New York Irish Center, located at 10-40 Jackson Ave. in Long Island City. Freeman named the organization after Michelangelo’s marble sculpture of Mary holding the body of Jesus after the crucifixion.
“It is the only sculpture that Michelangelo signed,” Freeman said. “As such, we are asking people to add their names to our list of supporters — a community holding and healing the broken, bringing people in emotional distress out of darkness into light.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr