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As his mum, I felt guilty for not spotting something was wrong

Mum releases open letter on World Mental Health Day after her son took his own life.

Mother of two Lizzi Stuart always told her son Lee that he'd been a heartbreaker - never did she expect the heart he would break forever was hers.

Lizzi, from Alexandria, has written a powerful open letter to share her family's experience of living with the impact of suicide on World Mental Health Day.

The 46-year-old wrote from the heart about the five months since her son's death to raise awareness and call for more support.

Lee was 17 when, without warning, he took his own life. Lizzi says something happened within 20 minutes that has left her and her family broken forever.

The mother is determined to prevent more young lives from being lost.

She has been working with the charities including Mental Health Foundation and Families and Friends against Murder and Suicide (FAMS) to help encourage young people, especially boys, to speak out and seek help if they are feeling suicidal.

Lizzi also wants to see mental health and suicide prevention taught in schools. Lizzi will join other families for a rally in Glasgow later this month to call for greater education.

Family broken forever 

On May 14 this year we started as every day does, as a normal working family. I have two sons aged 17 and 12 (at the time). We went off to work, school and college.

By 4pm my whole life had been ripped apart. Lee had decided to take his own life. There had been no signs of any lowness, ill mental health or anything like that. We as a family have not experienced any mental health issues in the past. To make matters a million times worse, my 12-year-old found his brother.

As a mother not only have I lost my child, but I have another child whose life has now taken a very different path. The impact of this has destroyed us. As a mother I felt guilt for not spotting something was wrong, guilt for him not being able to speak with me for whatever reason and guilt for me not being able to console my other son and protect him from the images which he will require to live with for the rest of his days.

The Stuart family have been 'destroyed' by Lee's death.
The Stuart family have been 'destroyed' by Lee's death. STV

I used to always say to Lee that he was going to be a heartbreaker! Never did I expect the only heart he would massively break was going to be mine.

My opinion since this has happened to our whole family is that children of all high school age should be taught as part of their curriculum about mental health wellbeing/suicide prevention and suicide impact. Mental health/unwellness and suicide do not discriminate against gender, race or age.

It can affect anyone at any time and more needs to be taught to our young generation that it is okay to feel low and not know why? And that by speaking out it will not stigmatise anyone as there will be a lot more people feeling exactly the same way. It also needs to be taught that feeling low can't be put down to adolescent hormones. As in Lee's case we could see no reason why he would be so sad to do what he done.

Lee Stuart took his own life in May.
Lee Stuart took his own life in May. STV

The impact of suicide has left me and my family broken forever. it has impacted on us requiring to move house, not being able to go into Lee's room and see his belongings, constantly having the questions 'Why?' and 'What If?'. Lee would have turned 18 on October 14 and instead of buying him a car and having a big party I have been left buying a headstone and paying for a funeral.

I now don't get to see Lee, I have to go to a cemetery to attempt to be close to him, which isn't always the case. I have another child who is grieving for his brother and I am trying to help him as well as dealing with my own grief.

Lizzi

If you or someone you know needs help, FAMS can be contacted on 07736 326 062, while the Samaritans can be reached on 116 123 or at jo@samaritans.org.

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