herald

Saturday 19 October 2019

Mum of tragic Elisha (14) to demand better mental health services

Grainne Gault (pictured) has spoken about the loss of Elisha
Grainne Gault (pictured) has spoken about the loss of Elisha

A mother who lost her 14-year-old daughter to suicide is pleading with the public to lend their support to a protest outside Leinster House for better mental health services.

Elisha Gault died on St Patrick's Day last year after falling from a bridge in Carrick-on-Suir, Co Tipperary. Her body was recovered from the River Suir eight days later.

The body of the missing teenager was found about 8km from where she was last seen on a bridge in the town.

Elisha's mother, Grainne, has kept her late daughter's Facebook page as both a memorial to Elisha and for young people and adults who suffer with mental health difficulties to help guide them through their despair.

Suffering

Ms Gault has spoken publicly about the loss of her much-loved daughter and the battles she had with mental health, along with voicing her concerns over support services for children and adolescents.

On her daughter's page she posted: "On Wednesday, October 16, I will march to Leinster House, arranged by Mental Health Warriors, to demand better services, not for Elisha but for [those] who are suffering and for those parents who are struggling to save [their] own children.

"For this to be a success, there needs to be a strong public voice demanding change to the services because what's on offer is falling short and our kids are turning to self-medicating to cope but too many are dying, young and old.

"This was my baby trying to be positive and now she's gone," she added.

"So many went before her and so many since, so for the love of all of our children, let's stand together on October 16 (at 1pm) so no more have to die.

"Please share Mental Health Warriors post so Ireland can unite to save the rest of our babies!"

Elisha Gault
Elisha Gault

Months after her daughter's death, Ms Gault explained that after a few years of trying to understand why Elisha had been "acting out, she finally disclosed that in 2012, she was sexually abused by a person who was known to her and in a position of trust".

"[On] May 31, 2017, Elisha was subjected to a cyber bullying incident that resulted in her locking herself in our bathroom at home, placing herself in the airing cupboard, then made a serious attempt to end her suffering," she said.

Ms Gault went on to describe how her daughter filled her room with positive thoughts and messages in an attempt to deal with her difficulties.

"As I looked into the eyes of my 14-year-old daughter, I knew that I could not save her, no matter how desperate I was to. On June 1, 2017 she was discharged from Child and Adult Mental Health Services (CAMHS) after her first attempt [to take her own life], being told she didn't have a problem.

"Nine months later, she disappeared on March 17, 2018, and we searched for her body for eight days.

"Elisha decorated her room, she was trying to be focused on positivity and we struggled to support her with our limited knowledge of caring for a child with mental health issues.

"CAMHS decided after a one to two-hour consultation that she didn't need help."

Funding

One member of the public reacted to her post by saying: "I am not able to march with you but I support you 100pc. Mental Health Services in this country are appalling. Good for you. Your beautiful Elisha will not be forgotten."

Ms Gault previously said she will continue to plead with the Government for additional funding to be pumped into helping young people with psychological issues.

She pointed out that she believes that mental health support is still relatively in its infancy.

"There's no one shoe fits all approach. Not all solutions exist in Ireland but I do know this, together we can learn a better way," she said.

"We can reach out and pull others close and the reality is, as parents and carers, we too need support, we need to learn a different approach, to ultimately offer a brighter outcome."

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