BY ANNIE BROWN
JAMIE-Lyn McBride helped establish Mikey’s Line to fill a gaping hole in services for young people who feel their only escape from despair is suicide.
THE young founder of a helpline set up after the tragic death of five youngsters has spoken
of her own struggle with depression .
Jamie-Lyn McBride helped establish Mikey’s Line to fill a gaping hole in services for young people who feel their only escape from despair is suicide .
Jamie-Lyn said: “People have no one to speak to, nowhere to turn.
“In school we are not taught about mental health and young people are growing up not knowing how to cope with how they feel and they end up killing themselves.
“I would like to see mental health being part of the school curriculum.”
The line was named after Michael Williamson, from Inverness , who was found dead in October this year – just hours after returning from a night out to remember Martin Shaw, who had died earlier in the city.
They were both 23 and their deaths came two months before 21-year-old Jordan Wallace was found dead by his girlfriend at his Inverness home.
He knew Michael and Martin and was a friend of Ryan Watt, a promising young boxer, who was found dead at his Invernesshire home just after Christmas last year.
Last month, the body of mother-of-one Stacey Duggan, 21, was found at her home in Inverness.
So many tragedies, so many young lives lost.
Jamie-Lyn, 25, said she understood the depth of despair suffered by youngsters, including Mikey, who she knew through friends.
She said: “When you are that low, you don’t feel anything any more. You don’t want to go out, you don’t want to socialise but if you are out or at school, you have to pretend it is okay.”
She had turned to self-harming aged 12 and it was another six years before she was diagnosed with depression.
“Everyone thought it was just hormones and being a teenager, and I would grow out of it,” she said.
When Jamie-Lyn was 16, she lost two friends in a car crash and her world darkened.
Rebecca Dick, 15, Amy Jaffray, 15, and driver Sam Crouchley, 18, all died after the car they were travelling in was involved in a high-speed collision in Moray and burst into flames.
Grief compounded Jamie-Lyn’s depression and the death of her great-gran and later her Papa all added to her sense of loss.
Two female friends killed themselves, only weeks apart – when she was 18.
When she was the same age, she was put on anti-depressants and tried counselling but it didn’t suit her. Her greatest support was from her parents and friends.
She was 19 when one night she drove out with a plan to kill herself. She texted her parents saying she was sorry and that she loved them. Jamie-Lyn planned to drive her car into a tree. She said: “I didn’t want to be here any more.
“I felt worthless and could never make my parents proud of me – even though they are fantastic and were so supportive. I felt like a freak. It was all in my head but I wanted to be normal.
“I didn’t think of anyone else’s feelings. I thought they would be better off without me.”
But her devoted father called her and managed to persuade her to meet in a cafe. That talk at 11pm, just hearing his voice, gave her the courage to go on.
“I think a text line like Mikey’s line would have been a massive help to me. To be in contact with someone who really understood. You don’t want to burden someone you know, so it is easier to talk to a stranger.”
It will be manned over the weekend by a handful of young volunteers who know what it is like to be so low.
She said: “Unless you have lived that experience, unless you know what it is like to want to end you own life, it is hard to understand.”
Jamie-Lyn hopes Mikey’s line will have a major impact, saying: “I hope that it helps. I hope that it can save people. I would say to people to text us or speak to a family friend. Don’t bottle it up, it will destroy you from the inside out. I am glad to be alive.”
She founded the line with Ron Williamson, Michael’s uncle.
They decided to set up a text line because one in four people hangs up when they hear a voice and she felt text was a youth-friendly tool.
They hope to get some professional training in January but they feel the key is that many of those manning the line have experienced their own struggles.
The line was launched earlier this month and was contacted by a dozen young people over their first weekend.
Ron and Michael’s parents believe his death was one of misadventure after he had been drinking. Ron said: “There is no pro-active programme in Scotland to deal with depression in young people.
“They should be in schools and in the workplace, and shouldn’t have to depend on amateurs and charities like ourselves stepping into the breach.
“I know that Scotsmen don’t express their feelings. There are a lot of young men who put on a brave face and don’t talk about things.
“Michael was the life and soul of the party. The joke teller and smiler.
“You realise that it could be the person standing next to you in the supermarket who could be struggling with depression – there are no outward physical signs.”
Michael had recently been to see Ron at his home in Southampton and had been on holiday in Bulgaria with his friends. Ron said: “He would never have done this to his family, parents or friends, sober.
“We don’t exactly know what happened.
“Mikey had so many friends and his family loved him to bits but even the most popular kid on the block can feel alone sometimes.”
He hopes that the mere act of composing a sentence and making contact with a human being through a text to Mikey’s Line could be enough to push out suicidal thoughts.
“If they are on a path, I hope we can divert them from that path and save them from from going down such a final route.”
To help Mikey’s Line see www.gofundme.com/mikeysline or text
07779 303 303.
The line is open from 7pm on Fridays to 7am on Mondays.