ALMOST one year ago, Annette McKenzie and I sat down to talk about suicide.

In particular, we spoke about a spate of tragic young deaths in the South Side. It was the four-year anniversary of the death of her daughter, Britney Mazzoncini, and the mum-of-three from Pollok opened up about the heartbreak and devastation that was tormenting her local community. 

Ten months on from that conversation, the 38-year-old says she wishes she could tell me that things have improved. 

She said: “I wish I could tell you something different today, but things have actually got worse. 

“This year alone, we have lost so many. How many funerals have there been? And we are only five months in.”

Glasgow Times: Britney and AnnetteBritney and Annette

Britney was just 16 when she took her own life. Prior to her death, the teenager had been dealing with a string of sickening online bullying attacks.

Since her passing, Annette and Britney’s father, Raymond Mazzoncini, have campaigned tirelessly to open the conversation around suicide and mental health.

Despite the couple’s efforts, the problem has only become devastatingly familiar.

No official figures are available, but a number of young people have taken their own lives in Glasgow’s South Side since the turn of the year.

“There are so many people who are trying to reach out for help but sadly it isn’t there,” said Annette.  

“Compared to five years ago, if we were to all stand at the school gates with our kids now, you’d see how many we have lost – you’d see how many parents have had to go through that heartache of losing a child.”

Glasgow Times:

Experts have suggested that the number of those who are dying by suicide is substantially higher in deprived areas, like Pollok. 

In an open letter penned last year to the First Minister, Minister for Health and Health Secretary, Annette and Raymond described the problem as a virus more deadly than Scotland has ever known as they urged for extra support for the area. 

Annette added: “People are reaching out to get help now but what can you do when people can’t access it? Or they have to wait months-on-end to receive it? It’s almost like it is becoming too late.

“We spoke in Parliament about starting up emergency services dedicated for mental health but nothing happened with it.

“People were also promised money would be invested in the mental health crisis, but what is to show for it?

“Unfortunately, I don’t see it getting any better unless it is acted upon immediately,” she said. “With people unable to see their families and friends, it has become a pandemic in itself.” 

Glasgow Times: Britney and RaymondBritney and Raymond

As it approaches five years since Britney’s passing, Annette has recounted the last moments with her little girl as she urged youths to be honest about their emotions. 

“It was such a normal night. There was nothing out of the ordinary at all. She was heading to bed and asked me if I wanted a cuppa, then she said, ‘good night mum, I love you’.

“We always said I love you to each other before bed. She was a lovely girl with a heart of gold and there’s not a day that will ever go by where I don’t miss her.

“If she were here now, and if she could see how rife this problem is, she would try to do something about it. A lot of kids that have gone are actually her pals from school.

“I would just advise for a young person who might be feeling low to speak to their parents and if they can’t do that, then write a note about how you are feeling and leave it where they can see it. 

“Parents need to take mental health seriously before it is too late. It really is hard for them to reach out nowadays about how they are feeling, sometimes they struggle to confide in their friends. 

“And if you’re not struggling, just be kind – people need to realise that bruises heal but words don’t. Words stay with people years later.”

Glasgow Times:

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We extend our sincere condolences to Ms McKenzie, whose courageous campaigning about mental health support for young people is helping other families despite her own immeasurable loss.

“Every suicide is a tragedy with far-reaching effects on those left behind. It is important for people to know there is help available.

"Anyone in need of support can contact their GP or call the NHS 24 helpline. People can also find support online, through NHS Inform and on the Samaritans and Breathing Space websites.

“We are prioritising our work on suicide prevention with our National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group. 

"The group recently launched new guidance to help communities develop local suicide prevention approaches. The group’s lived experience panel ensures that those who have lost loved ones to suicide are at the heart of its decision making.”

If someone you know is struggling, here are some signs to look out for that show they might need help:

Feeling restless and agitated, angry and aggressive, tearful or being tired or lacking in energy

Not wanting to talk to or be with people or do things they usually enjoy, or finding it tough to cope with everyday things Using alcohol or drugs to cope with feelings, or talking about feeling hopeless, worthless or helpless, or feeling trapped

Not replying to messages or being distant.

It can be tricky to start a conversation but there are ways to get talking:

The Samaritans say it’s okay to ask someone directly if they’re suicidal as research shows this helps. If they are uncomfortable and don’t want to open up, that’s okay too - you’ve let them know you’re there for them.

If they do want to talk then really listen. 

Good listening involves giving the person your full attention, being patient and repeating things back to them so they know you’re paying attention.

Where to get help:

You can suggest the person goes to their GP for advice and support

SAMH gives mental health information and can direct you to local services. Call 0141 530 1000 or email

If you need to talk, call Breathing Space on 0800 83 85 87 or see

Families who need support after being bereaved by suicide can contact PETAL on 01698 324 502 or email

Call Samaritans for free on 116 123 or email the charity at 

Related story: Heartbroken mum urges for action after spate of tragic young deaths in Glasgow's South Side