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Hundreds of walkers help shine a light on suicide prevention

One of the Darkness into Light walks that were held all along the Costa del Sol. SUR
One of the Darkness into Light walks that were held all along the Costa del Sol. SUR
  • More than 550 people along the coast took part in the global Darkness into Life initiative last Saturday

More than 550 people along the Costa del Sol and in Gibraltar took part in last Saturday's Darkness into Light (DiL) walk, a global initiative aimed at highlighting awareness of suicide prevention. The local walkers also raised funds for the Afesol mental health association.

More than 23,000 euros was raised from the walks, although organisers said earlier this week that donations were still coming in and the figure is expected to be much higher.

Participants were invited to walk, cycle or run in an area of their choice, or join an organised group setting off from various points along the coast at 10am. Some early-bird fundraisers began their walks before dawn, however, to further highlight emerging from darkness into light.

Collaboration

The Costa del Sol initiative, organised by DiL, Afesol Salud Mental and the Irish suicide and self-harm prevention charity Pieta House, had the support of numerous businesses and establishments on the coast. These included several town halls, Mijas Communications, El Paraíso Golf Club (Estepona), Biddy Mulligans (Mijas), Blue Palm Restaurant (Marbella), The Hogan Stand (San Pedro), Cafe de la Mar (Estepona), The Rose and Thistle (La Duquesa) and The Casement (Gibraltar).

School participation

One of the largest amounts was collected by students, parents and teachers from the English International College (EIC) in Marbella, who raised nearly 3,000 euros.

This was the fifth time the college had participated in the event. More than 130 people, the school's highest participation to date, set off from the Beach House restaurant at sunrise to embark on a five-kilometre route along the seafront.

Local organisation

Founded in 1999, Afesol provides support to people with mental health issues and their families, and also runs a suicide helpline (952 44 06 64). The association was formed by a group of families in a bid to improve the quality of the lives of people with mental illness, and also to demand improvements in the mental healthcare programme in the province of Malaga.

The Darkness into Light initiative was first held in Dublin in 2008 and it has since become a worldwide movement.

Local organiser Michael O'Halloran told SUR in English, "We want to convey our heartfelt thanks to everyone who took part. This year's event was a massive success given the current circumstances, and we had an excellent turnout.

"So many people and businesses have been involved again this year and we have surpassed all expectations: We don't know the full amount raised yet because the money is still coming in."