An exercise in compassion

May 15th, 2021 5:10 PM

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THE Darkness into Light campaign took place again over the past weekend.

People all over the country got out of their warm beds to walk from darkness into the dawn in a bid to raise funds and awareness for the suicide prevention charity Pieta.

Pieta (formerly Pieta House) was founded in 2006 and since then it has helped over 58,000 people in suicidal distress or who have been engaging in self-harm.

It was founded by Joan Freeman, who became instrumental in organising the critical fundraiser, Darkness into Light, which is now replicated in many countries around the world.

The organisation now operates 15 centres and five outreach services around Ireland, employing over 200 therapists and staff.

It says that demand for the service is increasing and, as all charities have shown this year, it has just experienced one of its busiest years.

Loneliness is a huge element of depression for many sufferers and can there ever have been a more lonely year in the current generation than 2020?

While there is light at the end of the tunnel now, in 2021, those affected and, in some cases, traumatised, by the isolation imposed on us by Covid, are only beginning to realise the true impact of the past 15 months.

As a society, we have no true idea as yet, how great that impact will appear once the ‘dust has settled’ on the pandemic.

But, in true Irish community fashion, we came out in our thousands this weekend to help to ensure that those who need help in the future, will be able to access it.

RTÉ’s Late Late Show alone raised €1m in its appeal on Friday night, and Saturday morning’s walks and subsequent pledges raised more than €6m.

Once again, the nation answered the call to arms.

The word Pieta – from the Latin pietatem – means piety, pity and ‘faithfulness to natural ties’.

In Italian, it also means compassion.

Compassion is exactly what we need now, as we renew those natural ties, and, as hugs come back into fashion, it will soon be time to put a warm arm around those who need it most.

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