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5K Walk to Raise Funds for LIC-Based Suicide Prevention Center Takes Place Saturday

Joan Freeman at a Darkness into Light walk

May 16, 2018 By Tara Law

A 5K event will take place in Flushing this Saturday to raise funds for a suicide prevention center in Long Island City.

The third annual Solace Sunrise Walk, a 5K walk or run, will raise funds for Solace House, a Long Island City-based organization that provides free counseling to people contemplating suicide and to individuals who have lost a loved one.

The 5K will take place simultaneously with 10 other Solace Sunrise events, which will be held in the Bronx, Hoboken, San Francisco, Chicago and in other locations across the U.S. The goal of the walks is to raise $100,000 for the Solace House’s services.

The Long Island City location, which operates out of the New York Irish Center at 10-40 Jackson Ave., is Solace House’s sole center, although it plans to expand to Yonkers this summer. The nonprofit also has ambitions to expand nationally, a spokesperson for the organization said.

Participants will gather this Saturday at 4 a.m. at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows/Corona Park, where the walk will conclude at 7 a.m.

Tea and coffee will be offered at the end of the event.

The Solace Sunrise Walk is a spin off of the Darkness into Light Walk, an annual event in Ireland that was started by Irish Senator and psychologist Joan Freeman in 2009. 

The Irish walk raises funds for Pieta House, a suicide prevention charity Freeman founded in 2006 in honor of her sister, who committed suicide. Today, there are 150 branches of Pieta House worldwide, and about 150,000 people marched in this year’s Solace Sunrise Walk in Ireland.

Freeman founded a branch of Pieta House in Long Island City two and a half years ago, which changed its name to Solace House this fall. 

The Sunrise Solace Walk is intended to provide comfort to people who have lost a loved one to suicide and to promote suicide awareness, as well as to raise money for the organization, Freeman said in an interview Monday. 

The walk occurs at such an early hour to represent the darkness people feel when contemplating suicide. The darkness, however, can be followed by the light of dawn, Freeman said.

Irish Center, 1040 Jackson Avenue

“Comfort, love and support are the keys for getting through dark times,” said Freeman. “The most powerful thing is to meet people who arrive at the walk and have only just lost a loved someone to suicide.”

Walkers frequently form connections with the strangers they are marching with, Freeman said, because many of them have endured similar experiences.

Freeman also hopes to encourage more people to recognize the situational triggers of suicide, such as the loss of a job, a breakup— or the loss of a loved one to suicide. It is important, she said, to reach out to people in their time of need.

“Suicide can happen to anyone, and we need to be aware of the signs,” Freeman said.

Tickets are $35 for adults; $30 for members of groups with a minimum of six people; $25 for children 12-18 years old and seniors; and free for children under 12.

To register or donate to Solace House, visit Eventbrite.

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