THE mum of a tragic bank worker who took her own life after struggling with mental health during lockdown has spoken of her agony as she planned her funeral.
Leonie Baigan, 20, took her own life on March 4, with heartbroken pals paying tribute to her as the "sweetest angel".
Stacey, 40, said Leonie, from Edinburgh, had sought help for mental health and been signed off work, but the family had no idea she was suicidal.
Leonie spoke to her GP about her mental health, but hadn't indicated she was thinking of taking her own life.
Her funeral service was held on April 14, with Stacey saying the tragedy showed mental health needed to be taken seriously.
Gym instructor Stacey said: "I've been planning a funeral when I should have been planning a 21st birthday.
"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 December 23, Stacey called NHS 24 to seek help, and on Christmas Eve Leonie was prescribed antidepressants, but hadn't been taking them, Stacey said.
In February, Leonie was signed off work and given access to private counselling sessions on the phone, but she missed all the phone calls.
Stacey said: "On February 8 she told my mum 'I can't go back to work', she was very good at hiding it, her work said they wouldn't have known.
"They offered five counselling sessions, we said we would pay for more, I couldn't put a price on my child's health.
"In the pandemic everything is done by phone. Leonie was so socially introverted she couldn't phone a taxi.
"For someone to speak to a complete stranger about their mental health on the phone, it is quite sensitive and personal."
That day, she was having a down day but it wasn't any different from other down days
On the day she died, Leonie had a 'down day' but Stacey said there was nothing unusual about it.
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.
"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, upped her fitness levels by going for walks and cycling, and was buying and reading self-help books including writing a journal.
YOU’RE NOT ALONE
EVERY 90 minutes in the UK a life is lost to suicide.
It doesn't discriminate, touching the lives of people in every corner of society – from the homeless and unemployed to builders and doctors, reality stars and footballers.
It's the biggest killer of people under the age of 35, more deadly than cancer and car crashes.
And men are three times more likely to take their own life than women.
Yet it's rarely spoken of, a taboo that threatens to continue its deadly rampage unless we all stop and take notice, now.
That is why The Sun launched the You're Not Alone campaign.
The aim is that by sharing practical advice, raising awareness and breaking down the barriers people face when talking about their mental health, we can all do our bit to help save lives.
Let's all vow to ask for help when we need it, and listen out for others… You're Not Alone.
If you, or anyone you know, needs help dealing with mental health problems, the following organisations provide support:
- CALM, www.thecalmzone.net, 0800 585 858
- Heads Together, www.headstogether.org.uk
- Mind, www.mind.org.uk, 0300 123 3393
- Papyrus, www.papyrus-uk.org, 0800 068 41 41
- Samaritans, www.samaritans.org, 116 123
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 two metres apart, you can get a filling done but there isn't enough face to face support for people in crisis."
She plans to start a charity, Leonie's Legacy,to help other young people facing mental health struggles.
To donate towards the cost of the funeral, please visit the GoFundMe page here.
Contact the Samaritans
If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article contact The Samaritans on 116 123. They are available for free at anytime.
Or email https://www.samaritans.org/
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