Pieta House, the Irish-born center for prevention of suicide and self-harm, arrived in New York in 2015 after a successful decade in Ireland. Having identified a need to serve the Irish immigrant community in the five boroughs, the organization collaborated with the New York Irish Center in Long Island City which offered its building to bring Pieta House services to the city.

This Saturday, May 6, Pieta will host Darkness Into Light, its annual pre-dawn 5K walk to raise funds to prevent suicide, at the Billie Jean King Tennis Center at Flushing Meadow-Corona Park in Queens from 4-7:30 a.m. Gaelic Park in the Bronx will also be the setting for a walk starting at 4:15 a.m.

The walk will be part of nine planned in the U.S. on the same day, including events in Boston, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Austin, Chicago, San Diego and San Francisco Anyone is welcome to participate.

“We have nine venues across the states and two are in New York,” Beth Flaherty tells the Irish Voice.  

The march is planned to be symbolic of the work that is done at Pieta House. People meet in the dark and as the walk ends the dawn is rising.

“People come to us in a dark hour and we try to help restore their sense of purpose and hope,” Flaherty says.

Registration is still open for each event; attendees can also register at the event.  

Just as they do in Ireland, Pieta House in New York offers a completely free service to anyone who finds themselves in self-harm or suicidal distress.

“The most important part is letting people know there is somewhere to go that is completely free, confidential and entirely without judgment,” says Flaherty.

“Our biggest help in the Irish community has come though word of mouth. People see the welcoming environment that we provide. We work to remove the stigma because anyone can find themselves in a bad spot, and we work to help them through that.”

What are the common concerns that Pieta hears from the Irish community in New York? “For a lot of Irish coming over they’re expecting the American dream which they do get in a lot of ways in that there are jobs available, there is great community, there are nice homes to live in and New York is the best city in the world,” says Flaherty.

“But home calls as well. Sometimes they feel that they shouldn’t have any problems. It’s wanting to do well and show those at home that you’re doing well that can put pressure on. There’s still a struggle, because they’re only human.”

To register to participate in any of the 5K walks, visit pietahouse.eventgrid.com.