Pieta House, the centre for the prevention of self-harm or suicide opened over nine years ago with Lucan in County Dublin the centre of operations. In the intervening years we have seen and helped over 18,000 people in suicidal distress or engaging in self-harm, and opened up eight subsequent centres, three in the greater Dublin area – Ballyfermot, Tallaght and Finglas and five further centres to cater for the rest of the country inLimerick, Cork, Tipperary, Galway and Kerry.
In 2003, our founder and former CEO, Joan Freeman, a practising psychologist, closed down her own counselling business and dedicated her time to finding out how she could help people who were suicidal – what would be beneficial to them and help them get through their dark time. After three years of research, she opened up Pieta House, which quickly became a respected and recognised service for those who were suicidal.
Having counselled many people in the past who were self-harming, Joan realised that this was a topic never discussed and rarely understood, and she decided to also help people with this debilitating issue.
From humble beginnings, Pieta House has grown to almost 180 therapists and administration staff, and the demand for our service hasn’t let up. To that end, in 2014 alone, over 5,000 people came through our doors suffering from suicidal ideation or engaging in self-harm.
As it has been from day one, everything is free of charge and our staff are fully qualified and provide a professional one-to-one therapeutic service for people who are experiencing suicidal ideation, people who have attempted suicide and people who are engaging in self-harm. A doctor’s referral or a psychiatric report is not required.
One of our goals is to have a centre within 100km of every person in Ireland and we’re well on our way to achieving this. To help bring us closer to this important goal we have identified three areas most in need of our service -namely, the north west, the south east and the midlands.
We’re passionate about our life-saving work. As 90% of our income comes from fundraising events, we rely heavily on the support and encouragement of our volunteers and friends of Pieta.
Our flagship fundraiser, the phenomenon that is Darkness Into Light, an event that is almost entirely organised by our amazing volunteers continues to go from strength to strength on May 9th it will celebrate its seventh birthday. It’s no coincidence that this unique event takes place just as we’re coming into summer and our spirits are being lifted. Nearly a quarter of a million have woken in the small hours of the morning and taken part in Darkness Into Light to date, and this year it will touch the lives of thousands in 80 venues across Ireland and internationally.
Darkness Into Light is very much about hope and hope is something we endeavour to give each person who comes to us in their time of need. We help them feel more hopeful about the future as we continue to tackle the grave issue of suicide and self-harm in Ireland.