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Girl who tried to take her own life aged 8 sends powerful message to children

Ava-Lilly Sterland, from Solihull, West Mids, was a victim of playground bullies for two years before she was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

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Eight-year-old sends mental health message to other children

A schoolgirl who attempted to take her own life when she was just eight years old has sent a powerful message to other children battling depression.

Ava-Lilly Sterland was a victim of playground bullies for two years before she was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The primary schoolgirl from Solihull, West Mids, attempted to take her own life as she thought the world would be ‘better’ without her.

Her worried parents Sophie Sterland, 34, and Christopher, 40, sought professional help.

Brave Ava, now 10, has shared a video urging other children to speak to someone if they are feeling unhappy.

Mum-of-three Sophie, who is a senior sales assistant, said: “Ava decided to make a video for other children on her own.



Ava-Lilly Sterland, 10, has called on bullying victims to tell an adult




“She has lost a part of her childhood and has grown up before her time.

“But she is in a much better place now. She is very creative, compassionate and a young advocate for mental health.

“I wasn’t aware of children with depression before Ava. It is heartbreaking and I can’t believe what my little girl has been through.”

She said her daughter had attempted to take her own life in her bedroom, adding: “I was in total shock and completely broken.”

Ava’s mental health started to rapidly decline age seven.

She always wanted to be alone and was very quiet.



Ava’s mental health started to deteriorate when she was just seven
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Image:

Caters News Agency)






Ava with her younger sister Isabella, aged six
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Image:

Caters News Agency)




Sophie adds: “We were horrified to hear she had been suffering in silence for two years.

“We got her into a new school and she moved within a week. But it was clear something was happening in her head.”

Her worried parents went to their local GP, hospital and walk-in centre but nothing was done.

Sophie claims they were dismissed nine times by medics before taking the matter to Ava’s school.

She adds: “For a year, doctors said there is nothing wrong with Ava. Our whole family was turned upside down and we felt so alone.

“We felt so secluded from the outside world.

“She could hear a voice in her head that told her the world would be ‘better’ off without her.”



Ava has been receiving treatment for PTSD after being bullied
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Image:

Caters News Agency)






Ava with brother Mason, 15, mum Sophie, 34, sister Isabella, six, and dad Christopher, 40
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Image:

Caters News Agency)




Schizophrenia was ruled out by Ava’s therapist from the Solar Psychotherapists team based in Birmingham.

Sophie adds: “The therapist was amazing. He said the voice had been created in her mind as she began to believe what the bullies were saying.

“She had very low self-esteem and didn’t want to be here anymore. But now, she is much better and loves to spend time with her family.

“She is still shy but loves to do anything creative.”

Her parents praise Ava’s school and therapist for helping their daughter.

They urge other parents to reach out if they are going through the same thing.

Sophie said: “If we didn’t get help, I don’t think our story would have a happy ending. The hard times have made us stronger than ever before.

“It was a very lonely experience so I would be happy to speak to anyone who is going through this.”

Ava is now the youngest board member of the Beyond mental health charity and is using her experience to help other victims of bullying.

The Samaritans is available 24/7 if you need to talk. You can contact them for free by calling 116 123, email [email protected] or head to the website to find your nearest branch. You matter.



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