Lovely Leigh’s memory can help us stop the stigma of mental health

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THE family and friends of a young woman who took her own life after battling depression have raised more than £11,000 in her memory.
Jacque Smith, 44, and a number of close friends and family members have taken part in a series of fundraising activities to honour her beloved daughter Leigh.
Donations will go to the Scottish Association of Mental Health, SAMH, in a bid to help those who may be struggling to cope with depression or other illnesses.
Tragic Leigh Smith became a victim of suicide when she was just 22 years old after being tormented by self-esteem issues.

Beautiful Leigh battled with self esteem issues.

Beautiful Leigh battled with self esteem issues.

Now, in the wake of the two year anniversary of her untimely death, her loved ones have taken part in a series of fundraising events to support those suffering mental health problems.
Heartbroken mum Jacque is also in the process of setting up a charity named LoveLeigh, to raise awareness of how depression can impact so many lives.
Jacque said: “I had chosen SAMH as it was really the only organisation in Scotland that was raising awareness about mental health and suicide.
“That is also one of the main reasons for me to set up my own charity as I think more should and could be done in this area.
“My aim is to set up something that enables face to face and drop in services for those who may be struggling to cope with dark thoughts, something that SAMH unfortunately doesn’t specialise in at this moment in time.
“I think it’s important to provide support to schools on the early detection and education of mental health issues, to provide drop in centres, therapies and life coaching — particularly for teenagers and young adults — and to educate and encourage change in businesses, schools and health services on the early detection of mental health issues and suicide prevention.”

Love Leigh is a blog set up by Jacque Smith.

Love Leigh is a blog set up by Jacque Smith.

A JustGiving Page set up by Jacque’s close friend, Nick Wright, her brother Ewen Smith, plus a number of Leigh and Jacque’s friends, has raised an incredible total of £11,307 for the vital SAMH charity so far.
The dedicated team have held a number of charity auctions and also taken part in ‘Teeny’s Tough Mudders,’ in memory of Leigh, who was lovably nicknamed Teeny. So far, they have completed in all events in Scotland and will continue to do so in 2015.
In addition, Jacque also wants to highlight importance of trying to spot the signs of depression, sometimes those that are almost invisible, in people who may appear to be masking things on the outside.
“Leigh always put on a brave face. She was a very sensitive girl but she smiled to the rest of the world,” an emotional Jacque said.
“There is a stigma surrounding suicide and some see that it is selfish. I find that extremely narrow minded and insensitive because your own life is the ultimate sacrifice — something in your mind must block the basic instinct of survival.
“We must also have an education programme in schools about mental health and on the long-term effects of bullying. Perhaps if one bully or person being bullied heard my story then they may change their ways.”
Two weeks before Leigh’s death, Jacque said a once bubbly Leigh had suddenly become withdrawn and began sleeping more than usual.
And alarm bells began to ring when a shocked Jacque returned home one day to find chunks of Leigh’s hair lying on the carpet.

Best friends: Jacque has bene left heartbroken by her daughter's death.

Best friends: Jacque has bene left heartbroken by her daughter’s death.

“She didn’t cut all her hair off, but it was a strange act that made me slightly concerned because Leigh had always had long hair and would never let anyone but the hairdresser cut it,” Jacque recalled.
“I feel like that may have been her way of changing herself, cutting away the ‘bad’ or punishing herself.
“Another thing I started to notice was that she no longer had any fight. I tried to get her to shout at me just so I could see that spark still there. But I got nothing.”
After her devastating death, Jacque discovered Leigh had visited her local GP days before she killed herself.
Her visit prompted doctors to decide that Leigh would require ‘urgent psychiatric treatment.’
But before she could get help she needed, the finance worker sadly took her own life just days later.
Although Jacque is still deeply upset that she wasn’t informed about this, she has used her own experience to write to the health minister and call for quicker action to be taken on those dealing with mental health issues.
“If she’d been taken in for treatment immediately, Leigh’s death might have been prevented,” life coach Jacque said.
“I think that GPs must consider speaking to the parents of victims or loved ones to let them know that this is what they are going through, so we can act before it’s too late.
“What I do know is that Leigh didn’t want to die, she was so surrounded by darkness that she seemingly had no choice and something must have taken over her survival instincts.
“Her death was so final and she saw no other way out in the end.”
Following her daughter’s death, Jacque has also started up a heart-rending blog, named LoveLeigh, aimed at offering hope to those who are struggling with sadness and suicidal thoughts.

Legacy: Leigh's family and friends are battling to raise awareness of mental health issues.

Legacy: Leigh’s family and friends are battling to raise awareness of mental health issues.

“If I could just help one person feel hope then the loss of Leigh would at least be helping others,” she explained.
And although Jacque finds comfort in the happy memories of Leigh, the grief is often still too raw to bear.
“There are no words to describe the pain I feel everyday knowing that Leigh’s not here,” Jacque continued.
“I miss Leigh so very much today. some days her physical absence is brought sharply into focus with the simplest of actions or reminders.
“I miss her humour. I miss her laughter. I miss her smile.
“I wish there was some way I could have protected her and made her see what a smart, beautiful and lovely person she really was.”
Leigh, who in photographs is model-esque with her Gisele-like limbs and flowing brown hair, was often picked on at school and subjected to forms of abuse.
And, although she later went on to have a successful job in Glasgow, Leigh was still tormented by the voices in her head that told her she was never good enough.
Her loving mum Jacque went on: “Leigh simply couldn’t see what everyone else could see.
“I think part of Leigh’s depression stemmed from her self-esteem issues.
“One time she told me she thought she was ugly, worthless and a horrible, bad person.
“Nothing could have been further than the truth. But in the two weeks before her death, these thoughts obviously took hold of her.”
Jacque is beginning to see that Leigh’s death was not her fault, and hopes to start the foundation as a way of carrying on Leigh’s legacy.
She also counts Brightest Star, a charity for bereaved parents started up by Arlene Clark, from Renfrewshire, as a “huge inspiration.”
Jacque added: “The charity has helped me so much and it’s incredible what Arlene does.
“Now I want to use my life coaching skills to be able to help people with that.
“Nothing will bring Leigh back but I have to take something from this and do something good with it.
“LoveLeigh will fundamentally be there to provide stories and examples of hope, inspiration and love to as many people as possible. If one person’s life of ‘darkness’ can be given some ray of light or another person’s life can be saved, Leigh’s legacy and light will continue to provide hope for others.”
To donate or read Jacque’s story, visit To support the fundraising for SAMH, also

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