The Megan's Starr Foundation was set up after my 14-year-old daughter Megan took her own life after being cyberbullied, and subsequently suffering with her mental health. Like many young people, she obviously didn’t feel like she could reach out and seek help, by speaking to a teacher, a police officer or even us her parents. She didn’t want to be a burden to anyone, least of all us or her friends. She gut-wrenchingly suffered in silence. She was just a little girl. After Megan's death, my world literally fell apart. There was no support for any of us including my children. There were no services that were offered to us and we did not know where to turn to for help. We all suffered horrifically and had only each other for support. Our family has been desecrated forever. However, I put my grief and anger aside and decided that I could either let her death destroy me, or define me. I chose the latter. I vowed that I would not let any other young person feel like they had no choice other than to end their life. That I would ensure that there was always someone to speak to, without judgement or fear of being labelled attention-seeking or a burden. I also wanted to ensure that we would be there for parents who had concerns about their children and to raise awareness of teen suicide. Megan was a popular, vivacious, intelligent, beautiful and funny young girl, with her whole life in front of her. She was creative, talented and had a flair for art & poetry/writing.
But she’s dead. Suicide & mental health has no face and does not discriminate. I wanted parents to know that. Megan hid her pain behind a huge smile and others can too. I felt it was imperative to try to break the taboo. To show that we need to speak up about our mental health in order to try to overcome these stigmas. Megan was a normal, happy and healthy girl to everyone else, but looks can be deceiving.
(Nicola Harteveld - Mother and Founder).
It is almost five years on from losing Meg, and we have gained members/trustees who have all been affected by suicide, loss and/or mental health issues, each of them joining because they are passionate about making changes and helping people. We feel that this adds value to our foundation as it has been borne out of a yearning for making a difference, and as a legacy that we will always strive to protect. We are now a recently registered charity that serves to show love and kindness to individuals in the community who are in dire need of them.
Our Foundation concentrates on providing help, advice and support to young people and parents, from a range of social backgrounds who are struggling with their mental health and well-being. We feel that we are unique in the way that each and every one of our members has been through something that has irreversibly changed us. We can see things from a completely different perspective to someone who perhaps has not suffered in such a way.
Trauma can change a person, and make them far more receptive to people's needs and wants. There is no judgement within our foundation, only empathy and compassion. Additionally, we recognise that every single individual that walks through our doors is unique, and as such their issues will be too. We do not use generic booklets or expect anybody to follow a particular theory or formulation. We are all different and believe that the support we give reflects this, and as a result of these beliefs, we tailor support to meet the individual's needs.
Within our members, we have had first-hand experience of loss, mental health, special needs, trauma, PTSD and sexual discrimination. Each of us has sought solace in different ways. Our issues may be the same, but our coping strategies have been very different. This just clarifies our ethos regarding individuality.
The shoe that fits one, piches another (Carl Jung).
Sharing Megan's story to raise awareness of bullying and teenage suicide.
Her story reached over 11 million people on Facebook, and touched the hearts of the nation as so may people can relate to the devastating effects of bullying.
Phil & Holly launch the Be Kind Campaign
Talking about the horrific suicide game MOMO with Dr Anna Colton.
Winners of the WEST WALES HEALTH & CARE AWARDS 2021
Anti-Bullying Seminar - A guide for parents