A teenager who tried to take her own life is reaching out to young people struggling to cope this Christmas.
As charity Childline reveals the number of calls received over the festive period is soaring, Emma Ferguson has told children: “You can and you will get through it.”
The 19-year-old – whose tweet about her teenage suicide attempt went viral – wants to help those who cannot cope.
Four years on from almost ending hers, Emma says she is “smashing life”.
The restaurant worker from Dunblane shared her struggle with depression in an effort to show how far she had come.
She wanted to inspire others and share her story in the lead-up to the most emotional time of the year.
She tweeted a picture of herself on a hospital trolley after her failed suicide bid.
The post read: “Four years ago I attempted to take my own life and was diagnosed with depression after I lost my mum.
“This year I moved to Glasgow with the love of my life and I am absolutely smashing life. Remember you CAN do it and WILL get through it. #breakthestigma
Emma’s tweet went viral, with more than 58,000 likes and almost 8,500 retweets.
She is delighted she has been able to help: “For someone with depression, this is the worst month of the year.
“I did it for myself, but I was blown away by the number of people who related to it.
“People replied saying ‘I really needed this’ and that they were going through similar things.”
Emma said it felt good to make a small difference. “If that was me at my lowest, I would have loved to see that tweet.
“All I wanted then was to have someone understand me and what I was going through.”
Emma was just six when her mother Fiona was diagnosed with breast cancer.
By the age of nine, Emma was her mother’s carer – getting up at six in the morning to look after her before school.
Emma was at high school when she was summoned home to the moment she feared most – her mum passed away in her arms shortly afterwards.
Emma sank lower and lower into depression and self-harming.
When she was 15, she waited until her father and brother left the house, locked the door and made an attempt at killing herself.
A concerned neighbour arrived just in time and stopped Emma just as she passed out.
‘They are not there’
After a time in a mental health unit, Emma returned to live with her grandmother, who kept her busy and gave her hope.
“She was the person who supported me,” she said.
“She told me I would get through it.”
Four years later at the age of 19 she has a new job in Glasgow, a supportive boyfriend and wants to tell other young people that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
“Christmas can be the worst time. That one person who is meant to be there at the table is not there.”
Now Emma wants to help young people. She said: “I just picture her being there, and how she would think ‘It’s Christmas, you should be happy’.
“My mum would want me to be happy, for it to be my day, so I try to think that way.
“It takes time. I just want anyone feeling like that to know that it takes time but it will get better.”
Children’s charity Childline has revealed rising call numbers over the Christmas period.
Volunteers at bases in Glasgow and Aberdeen had 320 calls across the four main festive holidays of Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Hogmanay and New Year’s Day in 2016/17, up from 288 the year before.
Across the UK, there were nearly 2,500 counselling sessions by Childline over the same period, with young people seeking help for issues including abuse, anxiety and suicide.
Childline president Dame Esther Rantzen said too many children find Christmas “the darkest and most difficult time of year”.
She said: “They contact Childline to tell us they are spending the holidays surrounded by violence and anger, suffering from abuse and neglect, or wrestling with mental health problems.”
If you are feeling emotionally distressed and would like details of organisations which offer advice and support, click here or you can call for free, at any time to hear recorded information 0800 066 066.