THE mother of a teenager who took her own life has thanked an estimated 2,500 attendees who came along to a festival in her memory - and hopes the day will help youngsters suffering with mental health to seek help.
Honey Cook was just 15 when she died on February 14, 2021 and her mum, Gemma, organised the event - Bee Kind Festival - to raise awareness.
The Darton Academy pupil displayed no alarming signs before she died, and despite being ‘extremely close’ with her daughter, Gemma had no idea of her mental health struggles.
The festival - held on Sunday at Woolley Miners’ Cricket Club - raised thousands for charity Young Minds.
Plans to make the festival an annual occasion have already been mooted, as well as forming a charity in Honey’s honour in order to help youngsters.
Gemma told the Chronicle: “It was absolutely fantastic - we’ve had nothing but compliments.
“If one child has second thoughts about being unkind to another or harming themselves, then all this was worth it.
“Like a lot of people, I was ignorant to the crisis of suicide amongst young people as I have never experienced it before losing Honey.
“The statistics scared me and the thought of other families going through what we’re going through is devastating.
“My best friend suggested a family fun day to keep me focused and celebrate Honey while raising money for charity.
“I am overwhelmed with the support of local and big businesses - we really do need to make children’s mental health a priority.
“Life for me will never be the same but if one young person reads her story and feels the devastation left behind, I hope it stops them.
“Everyone wants another next year so we might just have to make it an annual event.”
Dan Jarvis, MP for Barnsley Central, attended Sunday’s event and urged young people to speak out if they are experiencing issues.
“It was a privilege to attend the festival in memory of Honey last weekend,” he added.
“The statistics around young people’s mental health are harrowing - ten per cent of Barnsley children aged five to 16 have a clinically significant mental health issue, with 50 per cent of lifelong mental health issues starting before the age of 14.
“Over three-quarters of young people in Barnsley have felt stressed or anxious in the last 12 months.
“Alongside good mental health support, it’s vital that parents and families are able to talk about mental health with their children.
“Barnsley Council’s ground-breaking #AlrightPal is doing great work in breaking down the stigma around mental health - we now need to ensure that everyone can talk about their mental health and feel able to ask for, and get, the help and support they need.
“It was heartening to see so many local folk come together in support, raising awareness and vital funds for young people’s mental health.”