Pieta House, the well-known Irish organization that specializes in helping people who are suicidal or self-harming and is also open to men, women and children suffering from depression and anxiety, has opened a new office in New York.

The service, which welcomes all in the Irish community, is free of charge and is aimed at helping people with any life event or issue affecting them at any point in their life.

On Sunday, December 6 at 6 p.m. the organization, which is entirely funded through public donations, will launch a Christmas appeal at Rory Dolan’s on McLean Avenue in Yonkers.

Tickets to the event are $40 in advance, or $50 on the day, which includes a free glass of champagne on arrival, a free gift, and music by the McLean Avenue Band and Mickey Coleman. Food will be served, and a raffle will also be held.

Ireland’s social taboos about mental health issues have long been consigned to history, and these days the public has rallied behind Pieta’s mission.

“Joan Freeman, the founder of Pieta House in Ireland, is putting all her energy into Pieta House in New York at the moment because this is our pilot program in America,” Rebecca Skedd, clinical support member, told the Irish Voice.

“Since Pieta House opened its doors in Ireland nine years ago thousands of Irish people have been through our doors. They began to trust our mission and us and the shame around mental health issues has vanished over the years. Nobody in Ireland is scared to say they need help now. Last year 4,000 people walked through our doors across Ireland,” Skedd added.

Pieta House’s Darkness Into Light walk held in New York in May attracted over 1,000 participants, a sign of changed attitudes here too.

“The numbers of Irish living here between Woodlawn, Queens, Brooklyn and other areas made us come here. Mental illness, suicidal thoughts and even loneliness are issues here too – and in a way more so – because people are more isolated, away from family, working a lot of hours and many are undocumented,” Skedd said.

The New York Irish Center in Long Island City was selected as the venue for Pieta House’s pilot program, which opened six weeks ago, because it is already known and respected in the community.

Skedd added, “People already have that trust in the Irish Center, so we thought it would be the ideal place to host our pilot program. If it works we will most certainly expand to other cities here with large Irish communities.”

The Christmas party in Rory Dolan’s on Sunday has two objectives: to help raise funds Pieta House needs to operate, and to get the news out to the Irish community that Pieta House has arrived and their doors are open to anyone.

Although Pieta House is free of charge, it costs the organization $1,000 to help a person from start to finish. The Christmas appeal will help the organization fund its mission to help the Irish wherever they are.

For further information, visit at www.pietahouse.org or call 718-482-0001. Pieta House is located at the Irish Center, 1040 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City, Queens.

Here's a short video on the history of Pieta House: