Communities across Donegal will be rising and shining as beacons of hope this Saturday to walk from Darkness into Light for Pieta.

The Letterkenny sunrise walk is the largest in the county, with up to 1,000 walkers and runners taking the candlelit route for various reasons of support, solidarity, remembrance and gratitude.

New Darkness Into Light Letterkenny Chairperson Orla Callaghan is hoping for a good turnout to continue the difference made by Pieta in the north west.

The Letterkenny DIL Committee launching Darkness Into Light Letterkenny, which takes place this Saturday 11th May at An Danlann ATU, taking off from 4.15am

Orla said: “I don’t think people realise how prevalent suicide has been in the county this year and the last couple of years. Especially for middle-aged men, I’d like to make that awareness that Pieta is there for people if they are in times of difficulty. Please reach out to them.

“Men seem to find it a lot more difficult to talk. It would be nice if more men used the service and prevailed of it. I’m not saying suicide doesn’t impact women and young people, of course it does, but men find it harder to open up.”

Pieta is active across Donegal, Sligo, Cavan and Monaghan, with the northwest centre located in Letterkenny.

Pieta National 24hr suicide helpline 1800 247247. Photo: Brian McDaid

In 2023 Pieta delivered 3,106 free therapy sessions and supported more than 411 people affected by suicide and self harm in the region.

The free 24/7 crisis phone and text line is open for all and therapists have provided assistance to individuals from 8 to 88 years old.

Orla is hoping that once again the message of hope and consolation can reach those who need it.

As a Disability Officer at ATU Donegal, Orla sees mental health illness on the rise alongside referrals to the student counselling service.

“There are so many people suffering with their mental health. We want to let them know they are not alone,” she said.

Darkness Into Light plays a crucial role in enabling Pieta to uphold its commitment to providing suicide prevention, intervention and bereavement support services, ensuring that help is always within reach when it is needed most.

“Many people do Darkness Into Light because they have a family member that is suffering with their mental health,” Orla adds.

“And there is the grief. When there has been a death by suicide it’s often kept very quiet because of the stigma and the families are in shock, it’s not like a car accident or another tragic death.”

Darkness Into Light Letterkenny 2023. Photo by Kevin Dooher

Pieta provided more than 968 hours of community and home support to people recently bereaved by suicide in Donegal and neighbouring counties last year.

Other outreach programmes include resilience courses and the Amber Flag – a movement that supports communities working together to break the stigma surrounding mental health.

In 2023, Pieta awarded 14 amber flags to schools in Donegal, with 1,918 students, young people and adults joining efforts to create healthy inclusive environments.

With the countdown on to the most important sunrise of the year, Orla is encouraging people to sign up to Darkness Into Light in advance or make a donation in the morning.

The Letterkenny walk will launch from An Danlann at the ATU Campus from 4:15 am on the morning of Saturday May 11th. Participants are invited to enjoy refreshments and music afterwards.

By participating in the event, supporters can make a real and tangible difference. For example, the €26 sign-up fee for Darkness Into Light can enable Pieta to answer two calls to their 24/7 helpline, providing immediate support and guidance to those in crisis.

Pieta depends on the funds generated by Darkness Into Light, with over 85% of the charity’s annual income coming from public fundraising.

There are 15 official DIL events taking place across Donegal this Saturday. Other people choose to take part their own way, be it walking, running, swimming or sharing their sunrise with family and friends.

Sign up today at

If you need to talk to someone, contact Pieta by phoning Freecall 1800 247 247. Or if you can simply text HELP to 51444.