Southern Star Ltd. logo
Premium Exclusives

Pieta launches new West Cork service

June 13th, 2023 7:05 AM

By Southern Star Team

Pieta launches new West Cork service Image
Stephanie Manahan, Pieta ceo, is from West Cork and knows the challenges facing rural communities. (Photo: Robbie Reynolds)

Share this article

Suicide prevention charity Pieta will open in Dunmanway later this summer in a bid to improve services for people living in rural communities. There are also plans to identify other locations in the area to establish crucial supports for those in need


PIETA, the suicide prevention charity that has helped thousands of people in crisis since it first opened its doors in Lucan, Dublin in 2006, will now have a presence and a base in Dunmanway, with services expected to start this summer. 

Stephanie Manahan, ceo of  Pieta said: ‘Cork city and county combined have a higher than average national suicide rate and that is something that got our attention.

‘We reached out to a number of local GPs who said that they would be very keen to see us in the area and so we set about trying to find a location. ‘We are thankful to the board of management at Dunmanway Family Resource Centre who have graciously given us a therapy room.  

‘We have two staff members who will be operating out of that service and  providing one-to-one counselling and therapy for people experiencing suicidal ideation or self-harm.’

Stephanie currently lives in Dublin but is originally from West Cork and is all too aware of the great distances someone from rural Ireland has to travel to access services. 

‘At Pieta, we are very focused on removing any impediments and blockages for people trying to access the service. 

‘In large counties such as Donegal and Cork, people have to travel long distances and it is important to Pieta that they are able to access services closer to where they live,’ she said. 

‘We are starting in Dunmanway as it is one of the bigger towns and therefore easier to get to, but we will be keeping our eyes out for other locations too, so we could have the team working in a few places throughout West Cork.’

Pieta’s message is one of hope, as per this display in Castletownbere for the reacent Darkness Into Light walk. (Photo: Anne Marie Cronin)


When asked if Pieta understood the challenges of rural Ireland, Stephanie answered with a resounding yes.  

‘We employ people from the community in which they live. For example, if you attend the Tralee centre, the majority of the staff will be from Tralee and the same goes for any other centre. The staff will also have their extended family in the area and will therefore understand the challenges and demands of rural living. It is really important to us that people from rural communities feel welcome and at ease with accessing services like ours.’

Pieta currently employs more than 200 therapists and support staff across 20 locations nationwide. Their freephone hotline is available 24/7 which will connect a person in crisis to a qualified therapist. 

Stephanie says: ‘We respond quickly. We are mindful of waiting lists in agencies across the country but when someone is in a crisis, they cannot be put onto a waiting list. When someone calls Pieta, they will be walked through each step carefully and gently. Everyone can attend our services and we take you as you present to us. There is no judgement.’

On speaking about the age demographics that attend Pieta, Stephanie said: ‘Year-on-year there is an increase in demand for services and we have seen a significant shift in the age profile from pre-Covid to post-Covid.
Over the last three years, we have seen a drop on an annual basis of the under 18 mean age of teens who access the service. Three years ago it was 16, two years ago it was 15 and last year it was 14.’ 


Some of those who took part in the Darkness into Light event in Clonakilty. (Photo: Martin Walsh)


That may sound alarming but Stephanie highlighted that the good news about that statistic is that the youth are reaching out sooner and seeking help earlier. Stephanie believes that is because of all the work done around mental health in schools with the Amber Flag and the ‘it’s ok not to be ok’ initiatives. 

She added: ‘We do, however, need to capture the 50s and 60s age group also as that age profile does not tend to reach out for help and yet they are also in the vulnerable age bracket that end their lives. Not all the narrative is about the young people, who are of course critical because of their tender age, but we mustn’t forget the older generations and the people who may feel lonely, isolated and be under lots of different life pressures. Our service is there for all and it is free and accessible to everyone.’ There is something very powerful in seeing communities standing together to help those among them who need it most and Pieta’s annual flagship fundraising event, the Darkness into Light walk, is testament to that fact. 

‘As ceo, I exhale on the Monday morning after the Darkness into Light walk when I hear that over 110,000 people who got up in the middle of the night, in the dark, all went home nice and safely again without incident. It is a massive event,’ said Stephanie.

The Darkness into Light walk can stir emotion in the thousands of people who walk in solidarity for hope in the darkness.

‘I was in Phoenix Park with nearly 10,000 people, and after a few thousand had already passed me, I glanced behind me as the dawn was breaking and as far as the eye could see, was just a long ribbon of yellow t-shirts and I was moved to tears. There is always hope and I believe that we can make a difference.’

• For further information visit

Tags used in this article

Share this article

Related content