Mum Calls For Better Mental Health Support After Daughter, 20, Took Her Own Life After Struggling During Pandemic
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A mum has called for greater mental health awareness and has paid tribute to her daughter who took her own life after struggling with mental health during the lockdown.
Leonie Baigan, 20, took her own life last month, just two days before the gender reveal party her mom had planned to celebrate her pregnancy. Leonie was excited to become a big sister, her mum Stacey Baigan, 40, said.
Stacey explains that Leonie had sought help for mental health and had been signed off from her work from her job at a bank, but the family had no idea she was suicidal. She had spoken to her GP about her mental health but had not indicated she was thinking of taking her own life.
Stacey - who is now six months pregnant - laid her daughter Leonie to rest on the 14th April. She has said that mental health had become another pandemic during the lockdowns, and many young people felt isolated.
"I've been planning a funeral when I should have been planning a 21st birthday," the gym instructor from Edinburgh said about her daughter's death.
"It was just so unexpected, we had been trying to get help for her mental health but never in a million years did I think this was going to happen.
"We were trying to get her help for about two or three years, in December she started to speak about it more saying 'I can't explain this feeling in my head, I just want peace'."
On 23rd December last year, Stacey called NHS 24 to seek help, and on Christmas Eve Leonie was prescribed antidepressants - but she was not keen to take them.
In February she was signed off work and given access to five private counselling sessions on the phone, but she was so shy she couldn't phone a taxi herself or order a takeaway.
She missed all the phone calls, and her mum said she felt face-to-face support should be given to people in crisis despite the pandemic.
Leonie was extremely shy and her mum believes she needed face-to-face support.
On the day she died, Leonie had a 'down day' but Stacey said there was nothing unusual about it.
She had tried to encourage Leonie to buy some paint to redecorate the kitchen cupboards of the flat in Edinburgh she was renting, and to buy a notebook to record her feelings.
Stacey said: "She had best friends, she had a boyfriend, she had a good job with a great career, she wanted to do a mortgage advisor qualification.
"She was making plans, I'm six months pregnant and Leonie was going to pop the balloon at a gender reveal party.
"She was so excited, she was more excited than us, she was planning to pick up cupcakes.
"It didn't seem to me like it was planned.
"That day, she was having a down day but it wasn't any different from other down days.
"She was talking about what she was going to wear that Saturday."
In a bid to improve her mental health Leonie had come off social media for a month, went for more walks and cycling, and was buying and reading self-help books including writing a journal.
Stacey never asked her daughter if she was suicidal but they did discuss TV presenter Caroline Flack, and Leonie was told the world wouldn't be a better place without her.
Her mum said: "She had a great future, she was in a relationship with a boyfriend who idolised her, she had friends, she did have all that support.
"At the start I put it down to teenagers but it was more than that.
"She had said to me 'how am I going to make friends, I'm too shy'.
"My thinking was we just needed to get this help and I hoped the antidepressants would help.
"She was so gentle and so generous to people - she was the biggest achievement in my whole life, it is devastating."
An appointment was offered by the NHS on March 22 - but it was on the phone, and Stacey said it would have been too hard for Leonie to open up unless it was in person.
She said: "I know we're in a pandemic but why can't it be in a room 2 metres apart, you can get a filling done but there isn't enough face to face support for people in crisis."
Stacey plans to start a charity, Leonie's Legacy , to help other young people facing mental health struggles.
Stacey added: "It is an invisible illness, if you break an arm you can see it.
"I believe that talking about it is a good start, if not we are losing a population."
To donate visit: https://uk.gofundme.com/f/rip-leonie?qid=ae73a638f...
If you have been affected by Caroline's death or are struggling in any way call Samaritans for free on 116 123, visit samaritans.org - or write down your thoughts in an email to [email protected].