Chloe Barber was like any other girl her age. She was artistic and a keen baker, she loved Primark, Doc Marten boots, makeup and Wagamama’s.
She had recently persuaded her grandmother to get a tattoo with her, which was a ring of flowers around a sun on her forearm which she had designed herself.
However, Chloe’s, 18, tattoo sat among scars from a history of self-harm, Grimsby Live reports.
Her family had first noticed signs that she was struggling in 2017 when she was a victim of bullying at school, and she went on to spend several stays in psychiatric hospitals including Inspire in Hull, and was diagnosed with an unstable personality disorder.
On November 3, 2021, Chloe tragically took her own life at home in Driffield. Her de ella brother de ella Reece, 15, had come home from school when he discovered his sister de ella and rushed to call 999 and give her CPR.
Six months on, Chloe’s mum Kirsten Barber has now spoken of feeling as though, towards the end, her daughter was allowed to slip through the cracks.
“In 2019, Chloe had been in Mill Lodge hospital in York. We got a call saying she’d not come back after going out for a walk,” she said.
“They informed police but they didn’t even report her missing. I had to report it myself and drive to York to look for her.”
After driving around the city, the family found Chloe walking down a street on her own.
In early 2021, Chloe was hospitalized at Cygnet where her problems with self harm became worse. It was at Cygnet where she also met her friend Chelsea Blue Mooney, a teenager from Bridlington who shortly later died while in the unit’s care.
Chloe was left devastated by 17-year-old Chelsea’s death in April last year, a tragedy over which Chelsea’s dad Stephen Blackford has since been working with Hull charity SEED who support people with eating disorders.
Kirsten is bravely speaking out on the family’s devastation to bring more awareness to the current mental health crisis faced by young people, and is taking on the Yorkshire Three Peaks later this Spring to raise cash for young suicide charity Papyrus.
“This, this is the most painful thing you will ever experience,” she told Hull Live.
“You know when people say they’re heartbroken? This is heartbroken. When you split up with your boyfriend and stuff like that you think you know heartbreak. But this is heartbreak.
“There are times when I just want to tell Chloe something, like when our dogs have done something daft and then you remember you can’t,” says Kirtsen.
“But I know she’s still here. I had Covid last month and the worst thing about it was losing my sense of smell. I went into her bedroom because I just go in there every so often to be near her, and I couldn’t smell her.
“Then the other night suddenly I got a smell of her perfume. It was really bizarre. She never spent much on perfume because she was a real Yorkshire girl who didn’t like splashing out. But it was there.”
Chloe’s family’s heartbreak is tragically being experienced by many across the region who have lost a loved one to suicide. Figures released by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) this week show 587 people in Yorkshire & the Humber took their lives in 2021 – of which 419 were men or boys and 168 women or girls.
Data suggests suicide figures did not rise during the pandemic, although they have slowly risen over the past 10 years. And while suicide remains the biggest killer of young men, the number of female suicides has been insidiously creeping up in recent years.
It’s also predominantly people aged 45 and under who take their lives. But while these figures show the regional picture, it’s important to remember that behind each and every number is a human and a grieving family.
“I want to take on this Three Peaks challenge not just for Chloe, but for all those other families that have gone through this horrific, well, unimaginable situation,” Kirsten continues. “This is still happening. These young people have their whole lives ahead of them.
“Mental health is an invisible killer. If someone’s got cancer or a broken leg you can physically see it and you can physically mend it.
“We still don’t know exactly what Chloe was going through. She was a very secretive person.”
Papyrus supports young people affected by suicide and suicidal thoughts, and has seen a 25% increase in calls, texts and emails to its confidential HOPELINE UK service. In 2020 and 2021 at least one in every three contacts was from a child under the age of 18.
Anyone who is able to donate to Kirsten’s JustGiving page for their Three Peaks challenge for Chloe here.
A spokesperson from Humber Teaching NHS Foundation Trust, said: “It is the position of the Trust that we do not comment on individual cases, as we prefer to discuss directly with the families who are affected.”
If you are struggling and need to talk, please don’t suffer in silence. Samaritans are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 116 123, or by emailing [email protected]
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