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Walking together into the light

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Next weekend the Newcastle community will come together for a sunrise beach walk in support of people in suicide distress and families who have been touched by suicide.

The city’s inaugural Darkness into Light event will be held on Saturday 11 May and will see participants do a four-kilometre round trip from Bar Beach to the Merewether baths, raising funds for Australian preventative mental health organisation batyr and Irish support service Pieta House.

Newcastle Darkness into Light committee member Brodie Apthorpe said that there was already lots of interest in the event, both by people affected by mental illness and those who just want to show support.

“That’s what is special about the walk,” she said.

“It’s at sunrise, so everyone is there in the dark and then they walk into the light together.

“It’s got a beautiful symbolism.”

Darkness into Light began in 2009 when 400 people walked through Phoenix Park in Dublin to raise money for Pieta House, who provide therapeutic help for those in suicide distress or engaging in self-harm. It has since grown to over 200,000 participants in 150 locations.

In Australia walks are also held in seven other cities. The Newcastle event was kickstarted by a local woman who lost a cousin to suicide in Ireland.

“It’s got a massive Irish following, so a lot of Irish communities have brought it across,” Ms Apthorpe explained.

“Being a part of this has given me a better belief in humanity.

“It’s been a really lovely thing seeing this all come together.”

As well as supporting Pieta House, funds raised will also go to batyr, who run programs in schools to teach students and their parents how to break the stigma around mental health and have healthy conversations.

For more information visit darknessintolight.ie/event/newcastle

For 24/7 support phone Lifeline on 13 11 14.

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