A mum has paid tribute to her daughter who took her own life after struggling with mental health during lockdown.
Leonie Baigan, 20, took her own life last month, two days before a gender reveal party to celebrate her mum’s pregnancy, and was excited to become a big sister.
Devastated mum-of-one Stacey Baigan, 40, said Leonie had sought help for mental health and was signed off work from her job at a bank, but the family had no idea she was suicidal.
Leonie, from Edinburgh, had spoken to her GP about her mental health but had not indicated she was thinking of taking her own life, which she did on March 4.
Stacey, who is six months pregnant, said mental health had become another pandemic in the course of lockdowns, and many young people were feeling isolated.
Leonie had a job at Bank of Scotland, a doting boyfriend and friends as well as a supportive family, and Stacey said 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 the NHS to seek help, and on Christmas Eve Leonie was prescribed antidepressants – but was not keen to take them.
In February she was signed off work and given access to five private counselling sessions on the phone, but she was so shy she couldn’t phone a taxi herself or order a takeaway.
She missed all the phone calls, and her mum said she felt face-to-face support should be given to people in crisis despite the pandemic.
Stacey said: “In the pandemic everything is done by phone, Leonie was so socially introverted she couldn’t phone a taxi.
“She used to get her nails done at the same salon for about six years but she couldn’t phone to make an appointment.
“For someone to speak to a complete stranger about their mental health on the phone, it is quite sensitive and personal.”
On the day she died, Leonie had a ‘down day’ but Stacey said there was nothing unusual about it.
She had tried to encourage Leonie to buy some paint to redecorate the kitchen cupboards of the flat in Edinburgh she was renting, and to buy a notebook to record her feelings.
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.
“She was making plans, I’m six months pregnant and Leonie was going to pop the balloon at a gender reveal party.
“She was so excited, she was more excited than us, she was planning to pick up cupcakes.
“It didn’t seem to me like it was planned. 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.”
Stacey added: “She was so gentle and so generous to people – she was the biggest achievement in my whole life, it is devastating.”
Now Stacey wants to launch a charity Leonie’s Legacy , to help other young people facing mental health struggles.
A fundraiser has been launched which can be accessed here.
If you are struggling and need to talk, the Samaritans operates a free helpline open 24/7 on 116 123. Alternatively, you can email email@example.com if you’d prefer to write down your feelings or don’t wish to be overheard