A HEARTBROKEN mother whose teenage daughter took her own life is calling on the Scottish Government to take action after a spate of tragic deaths among young people in the South Side.

Annette McKenzie and her partner Raymond Mazzoncini lost their 16-year-old daughter, Britney Mazzoncini, four years ago today after she was subjected to a string of sickening online bullying attacks.

Over the past three years, the couple have tirelessly campaigned to open the conversation around suicide and mental health as well as petitioning the Scottish Parliament to introduce parental consent before those aged under 18 are prescribed psychiatric medication.

On the fourth anniversary of their daughter’s death, Annette is sharing the devastation and heartbreak faced by the South Side community after a sudden spike in deaths among young people over the past three weeks.

Glasgow Times:

READ MORE: Community sets up mental health support group after spate of tragic young deaths

She said: “Every time I see it happen, it’s like a kick right to your teeth and it brings me right back to that day when we lost Britney.

“It feels as if you’re right back there to that very day. I had to tell another bereaved mother this is how she will feel every single time it happens. This isn’t natural.

“I’ve been trying to stop something from happening and trying to raise awareness for the past three years.

“Most of these children have gone to school with each other and then gone to each other’s funerals. This isn’t right, why is this problem so bad in the G52 area?”

Glasgow Times:

READ MORE: Mum of three siblings who died in tragic Paisley fire plans funeral

In an open letter to the First Minister, Minister for Mental Health and Health Secretary, the 38-year-old has described the problem as a virus more deadly than Scotland has ever known as she urges extra support for the area.

She added: “What I have been calling for is for the Scottish Government to recognise the alarming amount of suicides in the area – even in the past week alone. There have been three youngsters in the past week alone.

“As our First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon needs to recognise that the South Side of Glasgow is absolutely terrified about what is going to happen next.

“People are scared about waking up to find another child is gone. For them to not answer me back, is ignorant.”

Glasgow Times:

The mother-of-three is pleading for the Scottish Government to act urgently as mental health services are diverted during the coronavirus crisis.

She continued: “These deaths need to be acknowledged urgently. These children were lost to a pandemic bigger than the coronavirus. As a community, we are scared.

“Eventually, coronavirus will go. But this will not.

“We need some sort of reassurance that the government knows this is a problem and that they will help.

“These children are attending their pal’s funerals and mourning their death anniversaries. How much heartache can the young ones take?”

A series of Penilee and Cardonald consultations will be held by the Turf Youth Project from today in a bid to develop children’s and teenager’s views and ideas on establishing a youth service in the area.

Chris Stephens, MP for Glasgow South West, said: “I have assisted Annette and Turf by securing two halls for meetings over the next two weeks for a consultation with the community.

“The key priority is to build a project that makes sure young people have the health support and other means of support that they need. We are encouraging young people and other family members to attend. I will be doing all I can to help this project get off the ground.

“Annette is a fantastic campaigner.”

Glasgow Times:

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “It’s heartbreaking when anyone takes their own life. The Minister for Mental Health met with Ms McKenzie at the Scottish Parliament in November 2018 and knows the devastating effects suicide can have on families in Scotland.

“We are working tirelessly with partners to improve mental health services for young people, including those who have considered suicide or been bereaved by it.

“It is an area that the National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group is focusing on, as well as identifying additional actions to promote suicide prevention during the pandemic.

“We know lockdown is putting a strain on the mental health of many children and young people, which is why we are working closely with health boards to maintain the integrity and quality of services across Scotland during the coronavirus pandemic and, looking forward, to recovery.

“We have written to health boards to emphasise that mental health treatment for children and young people should be a clinical priority and our guidance on re-opening schools makes it clear that specific attention to pupils’ mental health will need to be considered.

“In March we announced £2 million of new funding to local authorities to support the planning and development of new community mental health and wellbeing services for 5-25-year-olds, their families and carers.

“We have also given £105,000 to support Young Scot to create Aye Feel, an enhanced digital mental wellbeing resource for children and young people, as part of a £1 million wider package of investment for mental health services.

Annette and Raymond's petition to parliament on consent for mental health treatment for under 18s can be viewed here.

If you or anyone you know is struggling, you can call the Samaritans at any time from any phone for free on 116 123