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Participants in the 2022 walk. SUR
Darkness into Light walks raise funds for suicide prevention and awareness
Mental Health

Darkness into Light walks raise funds for suicide prevention and awareness

Solidarity ·

The 5km charity walks are taking place on Saturday 11 May, at three locations on the Costa del Sol: Benalmádena, Mijas and Estepona

Myrto Kaltsidou

Friday, 10 May 2024, 11:26

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The 2024 Darkness into Light Costa del Sol walks are taking place on Saturday 11 May in three locations: Estepona, Mijas and Benalmádena. Setting off at 6am, participants will begin their stroll under the night sky, making their way along until the sun rises - an equally symbolic transition.

The walks, which are accessible to people of all ages, will help to raise funds for the Benalmádena-based mental health charity, Afesol Salud Mental. The charity, which has day centres along the Costa del Sol, provides suppports to family and friends of people struggling with mental health, including suicide prevention.

Participants in Estepona (Palm Beach Chiringuito, on Avenida de España 2), Benalmádena (Plaza El Remo, La Carihuela) and Mijas (Boulevard de La Cala) will complete a 5km walk, along with people in other 14 countries spanning five continents. Last year, the initiative rasied over 9,000 euros in Spain and Gibraltar.

Estepona town hall has expressed its wish to continue supporting this cause and collaborating with all types of non-profit organisations whose goal is to help people facing problems.

Organisers and councillors at the launch in Estepona.
Organisers and councillors at the launch in Estepona. SUR

This international campaign was founded fifteen years ago in Dublin by Michael O'Hallaran, who, with a home in Estepona, brought it to the Costa. "Suicide was always swept under the carpet and that needed to change," the Irishman said. "Today we have come a long way but we need to ensure that suicide is spoken about."

Marco Cortés, councillor for health at Mijas town hall, said: "It's important to increase the visibility of a serious issue such as suicide, and that we're all aware of the importance that all spheres of society play in its prevention, even more so as it continues to be the main external cause of death in Spain."

The launch of the event in Benalmádena.
The launch of the event in Benalmádena. SUR

In 2022, data published by the National Statistics Institute (INE) on 19 December 2023 revealed that 4,227 people had died by suicide in Spain, an average on 11.6 people per day; 74% of them being men (3,126) and 26% women (1,101). As a result, 2022 became the year with the most registered suicides in Spain's history since the beginning of their collected data (1906).

Cristian González, vicepresident of Afesol (left) and Marco Cortés, councillor for health at Mijas town hall (right).
Cristian González, vicepresident of Afesol (left) and Marco Cortés, councillor for health at Mijas town hall (right). SUE

Registration for the Darkness Into Light walks can be done online at www.darknessintolight.ie or at Afesol's premises in Benalmádena and Estepona. Participation costs range from 21 euros and from 26 should you wish to acquire a T-shirt.

The 024 national suicide prevention helpline operates 24 hours a day and provides a free and accessible service for people to talk (in different languages) through their situation with trained staff.

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