Heartbroken parents Fiona and Tim Tuomey who lost their daughter Milly to suicide have said better national resources for children with mental health issues are urgently needed.
Milly Tuomey was 11 years old when she took her own life. The pre-teen made a lethal attempt at self-harm on January 1st 2016 and passed away four days later.
Her parents Fiona and Tim spoke about their loss and numbing grief on a special episode of RTE's The Big Picture entitled "Young and Troubled" explaining how their daughter has been let down by the lack of local mental health resources.
Milly Tuomey died by suicide when she was just 11 years old. Her parents, Fiona and Tim, believe she was failed by the system that was supposed to help them.— RTE One (@RTEOne) April 26, 2018
The Big Picture - Young and Troubled
RTÉ One - Tonight - 9.35pm#RTEBigPic #YouthMentalHealth pic.twitter.com/XyyVzZP7Fm
The couple explained that when they were alerted by their older daughter that Mily had posted on her Instagram page that she wished to die in November 2015 they urgently sought professional help.
As they tried to figure out what was at the root of their daughter's anguish, the family's GP sent an urgent referral letter to the HSE's Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) centre and in-patient resource.
The letter outlined that the 11-year-old girl was "feeling low" and couldn't get suicide and self-harm off her mind.
The young Dubliner had been "unhappy with her physical appearance for a number of years" and was keeping a suicide diary underneath her bed.
Her mother tragically told the inquest after her daughter's death that Milly had written "beautiful girls don't eat" across her body in biro pen.
"You immediately think it must be something external, something must have happened. Were you bullied? Did somebody hurt you? You go through every horror scenario in your head to try unearth what could possibly bring your child to a situation where they no longer want to be here," Fiona said.
Tune into #rtebigpic this evening. Hardest thing I have witnessed over the years working with @lustforlife is a helpless mother. A mother or father who attempts to seek help for their child who is in pain yet can’t find it or when do it’s not Adequate. Time for change is now.— Niall Breslin (@nbrez) April 26, 2018
"She was going through puberty. She was becoming more conscious of her body. We would try to reassure her but she was more aware of what she saw as the flaws in herself," Tim added.
Despite the urgent letter being sent in November - and the family hand-delivering subsequent information about Milly's mental state in December - the next available appointment to meet with their nearest CAMHS was outlined for January 5th.
"We had an urgent referral for CAMHS and that urgent referral took four weeks. We were worried about our daughter every day that something was going to happen. To get an appointment that's urgent, that takes four weeks, was four weeks where something could happen and in our case it did," Tim explained.
Her mother added: "We need better resources and that means people sitting up and taking action. If there isn't a change in the way things are our story is going to continue in another family, in another home, in another loved one."
It was revealed by the show that the HSE isn't measuring the CAMHS response rates.
Minister of State for Mental Health, Jim Daly stated that he wants to introduce a 72-hour response rate within CAMHS.
Minister Daly added that an emergency phone number service to deal with mental health calls, similar to the 999 emergency services number, will hopefully also come to fruition.
[If you have been affected by the issues above contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on 1-800-273-8255.]