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Warning: mention of suicide and self harm
A brave young girl has sent an inspirational message hoping to encourage young children struggling with their mental health.
Ava-Lilly Sterland was a victim of playground bullies for two years before she was diagnosed with depression aged seven.
Watch her story below.
The primary schoolgirl from Solihull, West Midlands, attempted to take her own life at eight years old as she thought the world would be ‘better’ without her.
Her worried parents Sophie Sterland, 34, and Christopher, 40, sought professional help and the youngster was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Now 10 years old, Ava is urging other children to speak to someone if they are feeling unhappy in a video.
Speaking about her daughter’s achievements, mum-of-three Sophie said: “Ava decided to make a video for other children on her own.
“She has lost a part of her childhood and has grown up before her time.
“But she is in a much better place now.”
She always wanted to be alone and was very quiet.
Sophie adds: “We were horrified to hear she had been suffering in silence for two years.
“We got her into a new school and she moved within a week.
“But it was clear something was happening in her head.
“Ava became very negative and started to harm herself.”
Her worried parents went to their local GP, hospital and walk-in centre but nothing was done.
Ava attempted to hang herself with a skipping rope.
She adds: “For a year, doctors said there is nothing wrong with Ava.
“We felt so secluded from the outside world.”
After seeing a therapist, Sophie noticed a huge improvement in Ava.
“The therapist was amazing and helped fix Ava’s brain,” she says.
“He said the voice had been created in her mind as she began to believe what the bullies were saying.
“She had very low self-esteem and didn’t want to be here anymore.
“But now, she is much better and loves to spend time with her family.
Her parents praise Ava’s school and therapist for helping their daughter.
They urge other parents to reach out if they are going through the same thing.
Sophie said: “If we didn’t get help, I don’t think our story would have a happy ending.
“The hard times have made us stronger than ever before.
“It was a very lonely experience so I would be happy to speak to anyone who is going through this.”
Ava is now the youngest board member of the Beyond mental health charity and is using her experience to help other victims of bullying.
If you have been affected by the contents of this article or are struggling in any way call Samaritans for free on 116 123 or visit samaritans.org.
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