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Registrations still open for Brussels’ Darkness into Light charity walks on 6 May

12:31 04/05/2023

Belgian charity campaigners will be setting off before sunrise in a series of 5km dawn walks on 6 May to raise awareness of suicide and mental health. 

Local organisers says there’s still time to register for the annual Darkness into Light initiative that will be mirrored in towns and cities across the globe on Saturday.

This year’s walk in the capital will be even more poignant for participants following the death of 17-year-old Ulysse Gaussent who took his own life on 7 March.,The Brussels youngster came from a loving family and was a popular and talented player at the Watermael-Boitsfort rugby club. Some of his former teammates from Brussels Celtic will be remembering him during Saturday’s walk.

Ulysse’s mother Sophie told The Bulletin: “The walk is a really good idea. If we can help someone by raising awareness and do some good for others to prevent them from taking their own life, then we have helped.”

Shockingly, suicide still remains the biggest killer of young men under the age of 25, and Ulysse’s death coincided with another rugby-playing teenager from Liege also ending his life.

Sarah Ironside, chair of Darkness Into Light Belgium, has embarked on a series of her own daily personal walks in the lead up to her 60th birthday in tribute to friends she has lost to suicide. 

She dedicated one particular walk to Ulysse, who died one day before the start of her dawn efforts.

Her son Thomas played rugby with Ulysse. “Even though my son has grown up knowing about suicide, I did not expect he would be going to the funeral of one of his team-mates at such a young age,” said Sarah. “We have to hold on to our children tight, we have to listen to them and there has to be conversations in schools, sports clubs, everywhere.”

National statistics show that between 17,000 and 20,000 people take their own life each year in Belgium, said Sarah, while the World Health Organisation reports a worldwide figure of one person every 40 seconds.

This year’s walks from Cinquantenaire and Laeken in Brussels, Ghent, Bruges and Zaventem, will raise money for Centre De Prevention du Suicide and the Centrum ter Preventie Van Zelfdoding, the French and Flemish helpline charities in Belgium.

They begin at 5.00 so that the 5km walks coincide with the break of dawn.

Donations are also welcome from those who are unable to participate but would like to support the cause: DILBXL asbl BE90 0018 6162 7232.

For further information about the charity and to follow Sarah’s progress, contact her at or go to her Facebook page.

The Darkness Into Light initiative began in 2009 in Ireland. The annual series of walks has grown into a global movement with more than 21 countries taking part since 2021. Belgium’s walks raised €30,000 last year for the two helpline charities.

DIL Belgium, which was founded by Sarah Ironside, has European commissioner Mairead McGuiness as its patron.

Written by Kim Revill