A MUM has said her 19-year-old daughter was "let down" after she killed herself when her face-to-face mental health sessions were cancelled during lockdown.
Georgia Gallaway had suffered with mental health problems for many years but had finally agreed to seek help before the start of lockdown.
But when the UK was shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, the sessions she had booked were replaced with ones over the phone.
Her family said she tried to carry on with the phone sessions, but struggled to open up to a stranger she had never met.
Her mum, Sophie Alway, said this caused a downward spiral that led to her taking her own life in July.
Heartbroken Sophie said: "There was very little help, and because of lockdown any help she did get was over the phone.
"But like many teenagers, Georgia really struggled with talking at all, let alone on the phone to a stranger she couldn't see.
"She was so let down. I don't blame any individuals but it was a system failure. Things need to change and our children's lives matter. Georgia's life mattered and I'm determined to make sure her life makes a difference to others and can hopefully save many lives."
Sophie, 38, added: "I want to build a huge support system so children always have someone they can reach out to.
"I never want another child to feel so low and alone that they think suicide is their best or only option.
"Georgia was the funniest person you could meet, she would do little dance routines constantly and was always trying to make people laugh, so many people have come forward since she's died to tell me how she helped them through hard times.
"But she never really confided in anyone about hers, she thought there was something wrong with her. She didn't feel her problems were 'bad enough' to talk to someone about, and got angry at herself for the way she felt.
"Her emotions would come out at home and she would often sob her heart out in her room at home. I felt so helpless."
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
Sophie, who lives in Falmouth, Cornwall, with partner Lee and younger daughter Mia, said another problem she encountered was not being able to stay involved once Georgia turned 18.
She added: "Parents need to be allowed to be more involved. As soon as she turned 18 they didn't involve me in anything, they said she was an 'adult' but she wasn't. She was still a child in so many ways.
"I don't blame any authorities. I just want improvements to be made."
Her friends and family are also now fundraising to hold a celebration of her life after pandemic restrictions were eased.
Sarah Brandwood, who set up the group alongside another family friend Carly Geach, said: "Georgia was the most beautiful girl, with a massive smile and an infectious laugh. She brightened up everyone's day mostly being a total clown! She was always dancing and making others smile, caring and protective of her loved ones.
"Unfortunately, she couldn't see how beautiful she was, and she fought a battle every day unable to see those qualities.
"She hated everything about herself from the inside out, which made her feel as though people only pretended to like her. She felt unworthy, and unlovable and always needed reassurance."
The family are holding the celebration of Georgia's life on October 30, which would have been her 20th birthday.
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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