Girl Who Attempted Suicide At 8 Years Old Shares Inspiring Message About Coping With Mental Illness

Photo: beyond_avalilly / Instagram
Ava Lilly Instagram

Ava-Lilly Sterland, a young girl who attempted suicide at 8 years old is now a happy, healthy, and brave girl who is using social media to spread mental health awareness.

But things weren't so easy a couple of years ago for the now 10-year-old. 

When Sterland was seven years old, she was diagnosed with depression because of severe bullying done to her at school. A year later, she attempted to take her own life as she noticed a voice in her head telling her to kill herself.

Ava-Lilly Sterland is advocating for mental health awareness.

Sterland is now using her voice to support other young girls who might be affected by bullying and educate others that even young people experience mental health issues.  

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Sterland was used as a playground for bullies at her old school for almost two years before she was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression. Sterland is using her voice to speak out to children and adults who might be struggling with their mental health. 

Ava's parents helped her through her mental health journey.

Ava's mother Sophie Sterland said Ava decided to make a video on her own so other children can watch and feel like they aren't alone if they are being bullied as well. 

Ava now has treatment for her mental illnesses and has loads of love and support from her family, however, that wasn't always the case.

Ava's parents noticed their little girl's behavior was changing when she was seven years old as she always wanted to be alone and was very quiet.

Her parents didn't know she had been suffering in silence for two whole years and they were so horrified they got her into a new school. However, even though the new school seemed to solve the bullying, her parents noticed that it was clear something was wrong in her head.

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They knew something was serious when their daughter told them that a voice in her head was telling her "the world would be 'better' off without her." They noticed Ava was becoming very negative and started to harm herself. Shortly after showing suicidal symptoms, she tried to hang herself with a jump rope.

They tried everything they could from visiting their local hospital, walk-in center, but were dismissed nine times by medics, being told that nothing was wrong with Ava. Her parents had enough with the doctors and took the matter to Ava's school.

Mental health care is vital for young people who are struggling.

After her suicide attempt, Ava realized how important it was to open up to a trusted adult like her parents and that getting mental health help is so important.

Ava's school therapist was able to rule out Schizophrenia and told her parents the voice in her mind was created from her starting to believe the things that the bullies were saying.

RELATED: How I Saved Myself From Suicide

Ava's parents say that Ava is doing a lot better now, she's still shy, but she loves to do anything creative. That's why Ava decided to join and become a board member of the non-profit youth mental health organization called Beyond.

After posting her video in May about her experience, she has received lots of support and well wishes from hundreds of people. She also recently held a charity fundraiser where she was going to climb Snowden mountain to raise funds for schools to help children with mental health illnesses.

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When asked why she wanted to climb a mountain to help raise money for the charity she said, "a mountain is like a person with mental health problems, they have to climb to the top to get better, they just have to find the right path."

Ava was successfully able to raise over her £500 goal and donate £1000 plus to Beyond as well as successfully hiking mount Snowden. 

Ava's goal now is to encourage other kids to do the same as her and speak up to a trusted adult if they are being bullied or experiencing any suicidal thoughts, and therefore, hopefully, she can save some lives.

Ava's mother said that even though Ava has lost a part of her childhood she has grown so much more and is in a much better place now.

We can all help prevent suicide. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.

Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to speak confidentially to a trained crisis worker.

RELATED: What To Say To Someone After They've Attempted Suicide

Megan Hatch is a writer at YourTango who covers pop culture, love and relationships, and self-care.