In January, Mia Stuart was in a coma – 48 hours from her life-support being turned off – after a suicide attempt. Now, in National Suicide Prevention Week, she hopes her story of survival will help others. PETER BARRON reports

LESS than a mile away, it’s a glorious, sunny morning, but a grey shroud of fog hangs over the North-East coast, making the sea invisible from the promenade.

Seaton Carew, a typical English seaside resort, a few miles south of Hartlepool, is where 19-year-old Mia Stuart grew up.

And, today, Mia is sitting in a cafe, bravely, thoughtfully, and sometimes tearfully, talking about the “dark places” that led to her coming terrifyingly close to ending her own life.

This is National Suicide Prevention Week, and Mia has decided to tell her powerful story – as raw and painful though it still is – because she wants to help others who may be struggling with their mental health.

“I want to reach out and tell people who may be struggling that it will get better,” she says. “There are times when it’s so dark, you feel there’s no way out, but I’m still here – and that shows there’s hope.”

Mia is eloquent, intelligent, and from a loving family. Her mum, Joanne, is a deputy headteacher in a primary school, dad, Michael, works for a local council, and she has 13-year-old twin sisters, Eve and Lily.

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Home was always fun, safe and supportive – but depression can engulf anyone. And, having come back from the brink, Mia wants to use her “second chance” to inspire more openness to remove the stigma surrounding mental health, and to campaign for better support for those who are suffering.

Her first memory of feeling anxious was when she started gymnastics as a little girl. She loved the sport, and had the talent to win regional competitions, but it was never enough to match her own high expectations.

“I just wanted to be the best I could, but no matter how well I did, I never felt good enough,” she recalls. “Later in life, those same feelings started to affect me at school and all other aspects of my life.”

When she had to quit gymnastics due to a painful back condition, she lost an important friendship group, and, by 2018, she was struggling badly amid the pressure of preparing for her GCSEs, with that same, unshakable feeling of not being good enough.

“The anxiety developed into depression and darker thoughts, and I spent a lot of time in my room, refusing to go out with friends, and bottling it all up,” she explains.

At the start of 2019, she sought help from an English teacher, and an emergency referral was made to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services. Cognitive behaviour therapy was arranged, but it didn't work. On September 10 – by coincidence National Suicide Prevention Day – she took an overdose at home.

She’d alerted the mental health crisis team, and the police and an ambulance were despatched to the house. Thankfully, it wasn’t serious enough for her to require hospital treatment, but it was a disturbing warning of what was to come.

The immediate response was to put Mia on intensive care home treatment, with a new therapist regularly coming to the house, to take her for walks or a coffee. This time, there was a significant improvement, but then came the Covid pandemic, in March 2020, and the home visits stopped.

“I’m sure I could have made a lot of progress, but I wasn’t at the point where I could help myself, and the home visits were replaced by just one phone call every two weeks,” she says.

Her mental health deteriorated, and, in November 2021, she took another overdose before police were called to talk her down from a bridge.

“I just felt like there was nothing left for me, and that I wasn't going anywhere with my life,” she adds.

Mia was taken to James Cook University Hospital for treatment, and given access to the crisis team, but she was discharged to go home.

With lockdown rules being relaxed, she was able to return to intensive home treatment, with two therapists in regular contact for a year. Having someone to talk to, who she liked, meant her condition was stable – until she was about to turn 18, in August 2022, and she had to transition from child to adult services.

“I lost the relationship with the two people who'd been helping me, and I found it really hard,” she admits.

She’d been planning to stay on at sixth form college for an extra year, but unexpectedly got a place through clearing to study clinical psychology at Sunderland University. It proved to be the wrong move. She dropped out at the start of this year after struggling with independent study and making friends.

At the end of January, she took another overdose, that left her in intensive care, in a coma, for a week. Her mum and dad were told her life support system would be switched off unless there was an improvement within 48 hours.

Mercifully, the improvement came, although Mia describes it all as a blur. “The doctors said it was pretty much a miracle that I survived,” she says, as tears roll down her cheeks.

“When I came round, I was confused. My mum and dad were at my bedside – they’d been there every second. I know how hard it’s been for them, but they've been my biggest source of support.

“I just wish I’d talked more about how I was feeling. That’s my main message from all of this: talk to someone and focus on things you can look forward to.”

After the coma, Mia had to learn to walk again, and couldn’t speak for a long time. Instead, she wrote poems about her feelings. Having loved creative writing from being a child, she’d started compiling a collection of her poems when her struggles came to a head in 2018, and more were added while she was recovering in intensive care.

She's now put them together in a book, called Hiraeth, a Welsh word meaning ‘a deep longing for something, especially home’. The following extract is a message to anyone who may be suffering from depression:

I understand,

unlike most of the people

who tell you

to keep going,

that there is a light

at the end of the tunnel.


What they fail to see

is the earthquake in your chest

and the tsunami in your lungs


But I do.

I see it,

I see how hard you’re trying,

even though this world

is so cruel sometimes,

and I’m proud of you.

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Mia is seeking a publisher for the book, in the hope that her words will be an inspiration to others. She’s also considering a career in mental health services.

But, for now, she has to concentrate on rebuilding her life, and she's still receiving treatment.

“I take it one day at a time, but I’m definitely feeling better – and I know I’ve got something to live for,” she smiles.

As Mia Stuart walks back home along the promenade, the sun is starting to break through.

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  • Samaritans are available, day or night, 365 days a year. You can call them for free on 116 123, email them at, or visit to find your nearest branch.
  • If U Care Share on 0191 387 5661 or text IUCS to 85258.
  • SANE on 07984 967 708, Calm on 0800 58 58 58.
  • Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust crisis line 0800 0516 171.