A bank worker with a promising career took her own life two days before a family gender reveal party, after struggling with her mental health during lockdown.
Leonie Baigan, 20, from Edinburgh, was preparing to celebrate her mother’s pregnancy with a party last month.
But family members were left distraught two days before the event when Leonie, who worked for Royal Bank of Scotland, took her own life, on March 4.
The family say that while Leonie had struggled with her mental health, they had no idea she was feeling suicidal.
Her mother, Stacey, 40, said her daughter had good career prospects, a doting boyfriend and looking forward to becoming a big sister.
Stacey, a gym instructor, 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.
Leonie Baigan, 20, from Edinburgh, was preparing to celebrate her mother’s pregnancy with a party last month
‘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 said her daughter had sought help for mental health and had been signed off work from her job at a bank, but the family had no idea she was suicidal.
Her mother, Stacey, 40, said her daughter had good career prospects, a doting boyfriend and said she was looking forward to becoming a big sister
She said Leonie had recently come off social media to boost her mental health and had upped her fitness levels by going for walks and cycling.
And family say she was also buying and reading self-help books including writing a journal.
But Stacey said her daughter, like many other young people, had struggled with her mental health during lockdown.
On December 23 Stacey called NHS 24 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.
However Stacey said her daughter was shy and struggled to make phone calls – even to order a taxi or a takeaway.
Leonie missed all the phone calls.
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.
She said Leonie had recently come off social media to boost her mental health and had upped her fitness levels by going for walks and cycling
Stacey said she never asked her daughter if she was suicidal, but they did discuss tragic TV presenter Caroline Flack, and Leonie was told the world wouldn’t be a better place without her.
Her mum said: ‘She had a great future, she was in a relationship with a boyfriend who idolised her, she had friends, she did have all that support.
‘At the start I put it down to teenagers but it was more than that. She had said to me “how am I going to make friends? I’m too shy”.
‘My thinking was we just needed to get this help and I hoped the antidepressants would help.
‘She was so gentle and so generous to people – she was the biggest achievement in my whole life, it is devastating.’
An appointment was offered by the NHS on March 22 – but it was on the phone, and Stacey said it would have been too hard for Leonie to open up unless it was in person.
She said: ‘I know we’re in a pandemic but why can’t it be in a room 2 metres apart, you can get a filling done but there isn’t enough face to face support for people in crisis.’
Stacey says she now plans to complete an Open University degree in Criminology and Psychology and use the experience from her devastating loss to help others.
And she plans to start a charity, Leonie’s Legacy, to help other young people facing mental health struggles.
Stacey added: ‘It is an invisible illness, if you break an arm you can see it.
‘I believe that talking about it is a good start, if not we are losing a population.’
A GoFundMe page under the name ‘Leonie’s Legacy’ is open to make donations.
If you have been impacted by the story, the Samaritans are available to talk by calling 116 123. The Papyrus’ Hopeline is also open to call on 0800 068 41 41.