The parents of a mental health campaigner who took her own life have called for earlier intervention to help prevent other families from facing the tragic heartbreak of losing a loved one.
A Birmingham coroner concluded this month that 23 year old Becki Luscombe, of Flitwick, took her own life in September - she had been suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome, better known as ME, anorexia and borderline personality disorder.
After self harming attempts she volunteered to be admitted for psychiatric therapy at the Zinnia Centre in mid-September last year.
She was discovered dead at the centre on September 27.
A statement released by family and friends following the inquest said: “We are heartbroken that Becki, with her eloquence, wit and compassion, has been lost to us in such circumstances. She is irreplaceable.”
Her parents Richard and Sue are awaiting further discussion with the mental health foundation trust in charge following a serious case review into what happened.
University music student Becki was a ‘voice’ for mental health charity Mind and, in an online video released this month, she talks about the refusal of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) to treat her when she was just 16.
In the video, she says: “Had I been treated at the time I would not have gone on to have the two subsequent hospital admissions and I may not have gone on to develop the more chronic mental health problems I have now had it been treated at its root.”
Even after appeal, she could not get much-needed therapy from Bedford CAMHS, which meant the family were denied help to support her, even though she was just a teenager.
Becki, who was this year posthumously honoured by Nick Clegg in his prestigious Mental Health Hero Awards, wrote that if she had been treated at this early stage, then her mental health might not have deteriorated.
Her parents have also expressed concern about the lack of communication with Becki’s doctors, which meant that they were not able to really understand the depth of distress that their daughter was facing.
While health professionals knew of Becki’s self harm, she was allowed to hide it from her family.
Sue said: “Neither were we contacted or offered family support, when Becki’s actions became life-threatening over the last year. We were the ones who loved and cared for her the most, yet we were unable to keep her safe.
“There are rigorous procedures to protect vulnerable people when harm comes from others, but not when the harm is done by themselves.”
Both Richard and Sue have welcomed Budget proposals to increase funding for early intervention and have pledge to continue campaigning in their daughter’s name.
“At least one in four people will suffer mental illness at some point in their lives and young people are particularly vulnerable. We will continue to support Becki’s campaigns, so that mental illness is treated on parity with physical illness. If broken minds received the same care as broken legs we would have a healthier and fairer society,” said Richard.
They are now working with other interested parties to support the mental health needs of teenagers and young adults in schools.
Sue said: “We would encourage people to talk about mental health, until there is no more stigma in doing so, and to seek help where needed. Charities such as Mind and Papyrus can offer valuable support to young people, and people in immediate crisis can contact Samaritans at any time on 08457 909090.”
You can support fundraising in Becki’s memory at www.justgiving.com/teams/Becki