A kind-hearted graduate who lived to help others ended her life after she “lost her purpose” during the Covid-19 pandemic, her heartbroken mother said.
23-year-old Jodi Walsham struggled with her mental health and ‘in a very bad place’ in January after two vacancies in consecutive lockdowns were pulled.
The theater student from Humshaugh, Northumberland, suffered from anxiety from childhood, but Mother Jayne said she was at her best when she had structure and purpose.
Jodi’s mother said, ‘When she helped people, she had a purpose in life, and Covid took that away’,
Jodi Walsham, 23, struggled with her mental health and ‘in a very bad place’ in January after two vacancies were dropped in consecutive lockdowns
If it wasn’t for Covid-19, I’m confident she’d still be with us – it just took everything away and she couldn’t see the end of it.
“That’s how her brain worked – she couldn’t see that far.”
Jodi was born in Hexham and grew up just over five miles away in the village of Humshaugh. He attended Queen Elizabeth High School before joining the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA) in 2018 to study community drama and applied theater.
The talented singer went on to travel through Vietnam after graduating, before returning home to begin the next phase of her life.
After returning from Vietnam, Jodi (photo) was offered a job as a mentor at a school. The role was scheduled to begin last September, but was dropped when the pandemic struck
Jayne said, “All Jodi ever really wanted to do was help people – that was her passion.
“Her college education was all about bringing drama to the community, so it should have been like that.”
After returning from Vietnam, Jodi was offered a job as a mentor at a school. The role was scheduled to begin last September, but was dropped when the pandemic struck.
Jayne, 58, said: ‘That hit her back a lot. We live in a very sleepy village – it’s a lovely place to grow up, but once you’re a teenager it’s a bit boring, and she didn’t want to live here anymore.
Her anxiety got worse and her mental health got worse [services] began to intervene to some extent, but there were huge gaps in between.
Jodi’s mother said, “When she helped people, she had a purpose in life, and Covid took that away.” Pictured: Jodi
“We started to figure out what the problem was and they concluded it was autism or ADHD.”
After not being able to settle for months, Jodi moved to Glasgow in December when she was offered a job.
But when the next lockdown was announced, that job was also rescinded.
Every time she got a step, she was knocked back again. That’s what led her to do what she did on January 15th, ‘said Jayne.
‘In the few weeks before it happened, I knew she was really down because she stopped messaging me, I think because she knew I would know something was really wrong.
The talented singer went on a tour of Vietnam after graduating, before returning home to start the next phase of her life
The day before, her friend called me to say she thought Jodi should come home for a few days.
In the background I heard Jodi say ‘no’, but I had arranged with her friend that we would meet in Carlisle halfway through.
‘I FaceTimed Jodi and said everything would be fine, that we would get her home, even if it was just for a few days.
She got so calm and said, ‘Okay Mom, I’m just putting a few things in a bag’.
“In retrospect, I think that’s when she decided, but that night was the first time I’ve slept in years because when I spoke to her she was so convincing.
‘I thought,’ We’ll get her home and this time we’ll get her help, we’ll insist. ‘
In the photo: Jodi at her graduation went to the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA) in 2018 to study community drama and applied theater
Before Jayne could go to Carlisle to pick up her daughter, she got a call at 6 am from Jodi’s friend who said she had ended her life.
The devastated mother says an investigation is currently underway into whether Jodi received the mental health care she needed.
She said, ‘She had anxiety when she was very young, but we didn’t know what it was then.
She really struggled to do things unless she had someone with her, even something like getting on a train.
“When she got to college it got worse, but she loved the course – the stability is what got her through it.”
Jayne said the family struggled to get mental health support, with a doctor telling her that a teen Jodi “ needed more discipline. ”
She said, “When she was in college, I called a private company to see if I could get help, and they asked if she had a gambling addiction, so she could get free, immediate counseling.
“When I said she had anxiety, they said there was a waiting list for that.”
Jodi was visited last October by a member of the crisis team after taking an overdose.
Jayne said, ‘She was so positive when he left. But the weeks passed and there was nothing left. By then she was back down. It’s the continuity of it that hasn’t happened.
What annoys me is that I’ve been counseling since her death – it was Jodi who needed help, not me.
“There is still a huge stigma around mental health – a lot of people still don’t think it’s real, but it is.”
She added, “Covid played a big part in this – she needed structure and purpose in life – if she helped people or had a job, she could handle it.”
The family has now decided to release a song by Jodi to raise awareness for mental health and fund two local charities – Core
Music in Hexham and Lawnmowers, a theater company for people with learning disabilities.
In tribute to her daughter, Jayne said, “She made friends everywhere, she was a people person.
When she worked at the Beatles cafe in Liverpool, she knocked out the leftover food and gave it to the homeless in the harbor.
‘From an early age she would never stand up for herself, but she would stand up for people.
“She had so much to give.”
An investigation date has yet to be set by the Northumberland Coroner’s Office.
Anyone seeking help can call Samaritans toll-free on 116 123 or drop by Samaritans.org