IN THE early hours of last Saturday morning, May 8, supporters of the Oak Healthy Living Centre's Darkness Into Light fundraising and awareness event in Lisnaskea, donned their yellow shirts and joined together from afar to greet the sunrise and a new day in remembrance of those lost to suicide.

Every year, Darkness Into Light brings people together at pre-dawn meeting points all across the island of Ireland, and at similar gatherings all across the world, with participants then walking together to greet the sunrise and a new day – all in a bid to remember those who have died by suicide, and to also highlight that there is always help and support for anyone struggling with any self-harm ideation.

With the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, organisers of such events had to alter their usual gatherings.

This year, the Oak Healthy Living Centre asked all supporters to don their yellow t-shirts – old or new – and take part in the event at a time and in a location that suited them. They also encouraged those taking part to record their sunrise moment by taking photographs and sharing them to the centre's Facebook page.

Health Promotion Co-ordinator at the Oak Healthy Living Centre, Patricia Flanagan was one of the organisers of Darkness Into Light in Lisnaskea.

She explained that although they couldn't hold a big event this year, there was still a "tremendous amount of support".

She continued: "In Lisnaskea itself, myself and a few other guys were doing it around 5am. There were quite a few people out on the street, in groups of twos and threes, and then there were some people who did it in Enniskillen and some who did it in Newtownbutler, Kilyfole and Rosslea.

"Even though it was a very different event, there was a huge amount of support for it. We were very, very happy with that, [the pandemic] didn't affect the whole ethos of the event," she said, adding: "People did do it in their own area, at their own pace, whatever way they wanted – some guys went to Rossnowlagh and did a swim at 5am.

"There was a good mix of things happening; there was tremendous support."

For the weekend of Darkness Into Light, from Friday, May 7 to Monday, May 10, a reflection area was created in the market yard in Lisnaskea, where the event’s traditional 'Tree of Hope' was erected, providing an opportunity for people to write a personal message to post on the tree.

"We had the 'Tree of Hope', so people visited it all weekend and wrote their personal messages on that so that was quite effective. It was somewhere where they felt they could go and have their own wee bit of space and time in memory of their loved ones, so that was quite nice for people," said Patricia.

The Tree of Hope is now in the Oak Healthy Living Centre and it will be there for two weeks to allow people who didn’t get an opportunity to call over the weekend to call-in and write a personal message about a loved one.