Let’s Walk About Suicide: Uddingston teen on bringing others back from the brink

Louise McCann (16) from Uddingston, who had thoughts of suicide now helps other young people. (Wattie Cheung)
Louise McCann (16) from Uddingston, who had thoughts of suicide now helps other young people. (Wattie Cheung)

A schoolgirl who had decided to take her own life in despair is now pulling other teens back from the brink of suicide.

Sixteen-year-old Louise McCann had chosen to end her life last year.

She planned to take an overdose and leave letters for her family and friends so they would not blame themselves.

But today, Louise, from Uddingston, will lead hundreds of families on a Let’s Walk About Suicide event around Strathclyde Park to raise awareness of Scotland’s 800 suicides a year.

Louise said: “I’m so happy I got the help I needed and I’m alive to tell my story and help other teenagers stop and reconsider taking the drastic step I once thought was the only way out of the darkness I felt.

“If I’d done what I planned, I wouldn’t be here to change the lives of others, and I wouldn’t be walking round Strathclyde Park with my family and friends at my side.”

Louise has become a mentor for others through the organisation Family & Friends Affected by Murder & Suicide (FFAMS).

She said: “It really was a lifesaver as far as I was concerned.

“Now I’m determined to encourage other young people to talk about their feelings so they can see suicide is not the way out and life can be good.”

Three family bereavements, the break-up of her parents’ marriage and sitting the maximum number of exams had left Louise struggling with her emotions.

She said: “I felt very isolated and didn’t understand the feeling of helplessness. I felt there was no point in going on.

“It wasn’t one particular thing on its own, but looking back there was an awful lot of stress and I just didn’t know how to cope.

“My family realised I was very down, but they didn’t know what to do to help me.

“My poor mum would hide the kitchen knives and any medications in the house. She was so worried I was going to kill myself.

“I felt guilty because that was exactly what I wanted to do.

“I had even planned what I was going to say in the letters I was going to leave behind.

“It’s scary to think I wouldn’t be here today if I hadn’t got the support I needed.”

A crisis intervention and support from FFAMS brought Louise back to her loving family, and counselling other teens is her way of giving back.

Louise now plans to use her personal experience to train as a mental health nurse.

Her mum Wilma, 52, who will be walking with her, said: “I’m so very proud of my daughter. It took incredible strength for her to pull away from that dark period in her life. To think she is using that experience to help others now is just wonderful.”

FFAMS founder Anne Marie Cocozza, who has helped hundreds of families cope with the loss of loved ones, said: “Louise is an inspiration. We’re very proud of what she has achieved.

“With Scotland still having the highest suicide rate in the UK, especially among young people, we believe it is time schools were far more open about the subject and found time to talk about it in class.

“Despite government strategies, there is woefully inadequate provision for young people to access services when they need to.”

Let’s Walk About Suicide, Strathclyde Park, 2-5pm today

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