Schoolgirl bullied for being ginger tried to take her own life

A 16-year-old girl tried to take her own life after being bullied at school.

Kat, who asked to only be referred to by her first name, was just 14 years old when she first started feeling suicidal.

Growing up, Kat said she was being bullied at every school she went to and felt like she didn't have any friends she could turn to for help.

Feeling like she "just wanted to disappear", Kat was later diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder – a mental health condition which causes her to feel extreme emotions, from being very happy one day to very low the next.

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Kat, who is now 26, still struggles with her own mental health and has repeatedly attempted to take her own life.

But thanks to the continuous support of her mum Helen, from Runcorn, and her family, Kat said she knows who she can turn to for help when she needs it.

She has shared her story to raise awareness of suicide prevention and a new guide from PAPYRUS to help parents whose children are feeling suicidal.

Kat told the ECHO: "I've come from a single parent family. I was bullied all through school.

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"[I was in] middle school [Years] 7-9 and then moved on again after year nine to a bigger school.

"That move and being bullied the whole time, then moving to another school and having more bullying, definitely had a bit of an impact."

Kat recalls struggling with the way she looked from a young age and covering up her reflection in the mirror so she didn't have to look back at herself.

She said: "I was one of the ginger kids at school and I was a bit of a chubby kid, so there was a few things that people could pick on me for.

"I've always had a bad self image of myself. Even to this day people will tell me positive things and I don't believe them."

Kat first asked for help at the age of 14 when she went to the school nurse.

She was taken out of school for the following two weeks and referred CAMHS – a mental health service for children and young adults.

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Kat said she was 16 when she tried to take her own life: "I thought 'what's the point in sticking around', because I had no friends, I didn't have any support.

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"I looked as though I had a lot of friends but none of them were really friends – just people I knew.

"I didn't have anyone I could turn to.

"I just wanted to disappear and leave the world."

Helplines and support groups

The following are helplines and support networks for people to talk to, mostly listed on the NHS Choices website

  • Samaritans (116 123) operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year. If you prefer to write down how you're feeling, or if you're worried about being overheard on the phone, you can email Samaritans at jo@samaritans.org.
  • Childline (0800 1111) runs a helpline for children and young people in the UK. Calls are free and the number won't show up on your phone bill.
  • PAPYRUS (0800 068 41 41) is an organisation supporting teenagers and young adults who are feeling suicidal.
  • Mind (0300 123 3393) is a charity providing advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem. They campaign to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding.
  • Students Against Depression is a website for students who are depressed, have a low mood or are having suicidal thoughts.
  • Bullying UK is a website for both children and adults affected by bullying.
  • Hub of Hope is the UK’s most comprehensive national mental health support database. Download the free app, visit hubofhope.co.uk or text HOPE to 85258 to find relevant services near you.
  • Young Persons Advisory Service – Providing mental health and emotional wellbeing services for Liverpool’s children, young people and families. tel: 0151 707 1025 email: support@ypas.org.uk
  • Paul's Place – providing free counselling and group sessions to anyone living in Merseyside who has lost a family member or friend to suicide. Tel: 0151 226 0696 or email: paulsplace@beaconcounsellingtrust.co.uk

Getting access to mental health services has been a repeated problem for Kat, due to long waiting lists and a lack of one to one support.

Each time she moved to a different part of the country, due to her mum's job, Kat said she has had to start all over again in accessing a new service.

Kat, who now lives in Wolverhampton, said: "For myself I've always struggled with the support I've got through the mental health services.

"When one therapist leaves and you get someone new, even though it's all in your notes you have to start again.

"It's a difficult thing to go back to the beginning to do the ground work again.

"I ended up having another attempt on my own life two years ago and ended up in A&E."

Kat has opened up about her battle with her mental health

Despite being at crisis point, Kat said it took 18 months to be referred to a mental health service for support.

She said: "As someone who feels suicidal I'm not going to keep ringing up chasing them for someone to stop me.

"I remember my mum was calling and calling them and I was going 'just leave it, when I'm dead it's going to be their fault'.

"I was lucky enough to have a family around me. My mum was being so supportive."

Kat said if it wasn't for the help of her mum, siblings and family, she wouldn't have got the treatment she needed.

Since then, she has graduated from university with a masters degree in Cyber Psychology.

Kat said she has learnt how to manage her mental health on her own and often expresses how she feels in an online blog.

Kat added: "I'm definitely still struggling but I'm lucky that I have family support.

"They know me well enough to know when something isn't right and I know I can pick up the phone to them no matter what time of day it is."

To help parents whose children are feeling suicidal, suicide prevention charity PAPYRUS has created a new guide.

The guide offers both practical and professional advice to help parents break the silence around self-harm and suicide, and encourages them to talk to their children before it's too late.

Kat said the guide will help a lot of families out there who feel alone: "When you've got a child that wants to kill themselves it's hard to know how to support that person in the best way.

"Mum's had to find it out off her own back."

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Kat's mum Helen said: "Everywhere I looked there was support if your child had taken their life and there was support if you were suicidal, but there was no support for people living with someone who was suicidal.

"I eventually heard about PAPYRUS and the difference that made was immense."

Helen said through helping Kat she has learnt that you should "never be afraid of asking someone if they're feeling suicidal."

She said: "People are frightened of using the word when actually the more you use it the more normal it becomes to us and the more we are able to talk about it", Helen said.

The new guide, Supporting Your Child – Self-Harm and Suicide , has been endorsed by the Royal College of Emergency Medicine.

It was commissioned by the mother and father of a 15-year-old boy who took his own life, who were frustrated by the lack of information and resources for worried families.

Ged Flynn, Chief Executive of PAPYRUS, said: “That family felt utterly helpless as they attended the hospital emergency department prior to their schoolboy son’s death by suicide.

“No parent should ever have to go through that and it was their heartfelt wish that a new resource should be produced which is full of clear and accessible evidence-based advice and vital information to help keep our children suicide-safe.”

You can access the guide by clicking here.

Suicide is the biggest killer of young people in the UK. PAPYRUS aims to reduce the number of young people who take their own lives by breaking down the stigma around suicide and equipping people with the skills to recognise and respond to suicidal behaviour

HOPELINEUK is the charity’s confidential helpline service providing practical advice and support to young people with thoughts of suicide and anyone concerned about a young person who may have thoughts of suicide.

For practical, confidential suicide prevention help and advice please contact PAPYRUS HOPELINEUK on 0800 068 4141, text 07860 039967 or email pat@papyrus-uk.org

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