The mother of a teenager who took her own life a year ago this week has spoken of the hole her death has left in their family’s lives.
Dawn Johnson says the passing of 12 months has not lessened the “gut wrenching” feeling of loss for her daughter Lauren, but she is determined that her death should leave a “positive” legacy.
Lauren, of Blackburn Road in Oswaldtwistle, was just 17 when she jumped from the highest point of a shopping centre in Accrington on June 5, 2014.
In the year since her death, Lauren’s Place, a charity set up in her name has campaigned tirelessly for increased safety measures at the shopping centre and for more help for young people struggling with mental illness.
Dawn said: “It has been a strange year, there’s no words I can put it into. The loss is still massive, I still feel it very strongly, my whole life has changed, people say time is a healer, but there’s still that gut wrenching pain.
“It was Lauren’s 18th birthday in March and we couldn’t do anything for that, I see her friends progressing and I think about what she could have been doing, taking driving lessons. Some of her friends still can’t listen to songs that were played at her funeral.”
Dawn said Lauren’s sister Leah, 14, a pupil at Haslingden High School, has battled to cope with the death of her sister.
She said: “She’s been dealing with her own things as a teenager and she’s done really well to come through that. We’re all very close and Lauren and Leah were probably closer in some ways.
“I think it makes you re-evaluate your life and what’s important and what’s not. My kids are my world and I always told them that.”
Lauren’s ashes were scattered in a rose garden at Accrington Crematorium where her funeral was held.
Dawn said: “For me, Lauren is always around me, the rose garden is somewhere we can go to remember her day by day.
“After Lauren died I had a group of her friends round to the house and we talked and laughed about the things they did, and they got to spend some time in her bedroom and each got to take something of Lauren’s home.”
Dawn said the charity Lauren’s Place which aims to bridge the gap and empower young minds, is now aiming to get its own premises.
Lauren’s Place will be holding a balloon release to mark the anniversary of her death on Friday, and will have a stall set up in Accrington town centre.
Dawn said: “Anyone can come and ask us any questions they have about mental health – there are no silly questions and they can buy a balloon and add a note to be released.” Lauren’s former school, BRGS in Waterfoot, has trained 16 of its staff in Youth Mental Health First Aid, which teaches people how to recognise and respond to warning signs in adolescents.
Lauren’s mum Dawn said she would like to see the programme rolled out to staff and pupils in schools across the country.
For more information visit www.laurens-place.org.uk