Mandy says life is for living after suicide bid

Mandy Jones, formerly of Hawick.
Mandy Jones, formerly of Hawick.

A young woman is now on a mission to prove that life is worth living after attempting to commit suicide earlier this year.

Mandy Jones, known by her maiden name of Rayner at the time, moved to Hawick from Edinburgh when she was six months old and went to Wilton Park Primary School and later Hawick High School, leaving in 2007 to pursue her dreams of a career in musical theatre.

Mandy backstage in Selkirk in 2012.

Mandy backstage in Selkirk in 2012.

However, along the way her mental health started to suffer. That culminated in March this year with her being hospitalised following a suicide attempt.

That near-death experience proved to be a turning point in her life, and she has now set up the Empowered Woman Project.

What started out as a blog, outlining her road to recovery, has taken on a life of its own, with women from across the country coming together to share their experiences about mental health, including suffering post-natal depression, anxiety, anorexia and low self-esteem.

Mandy, 28, now living in Dundee, has also taken to the streets to help boost the self-esteem of fellow female folk.

She leaves what she calls kindness cards in random places, as well as giving out yellow roses in exchange for women telling her about the things they love about themselves.

Mandy, whose family still live in Hawick, Galashiels, Kelso and Innerleithen, said: “Growing up, I was very active in the local performing scene, including operas and pantomimes. I played the leading part in Copacabana with Hawick Amateur Operatic Society and then the leading part in Carousel with Selkirk Operatic Society in 2012.

“I have struggled on and off with my mental health throughout my life.

“Anyway, last year I suffered a lot of tragedy.

“I was involved in an arson attack and my marriage broke down.

“Fast-forward a year to March this year, and I just wanted to disappear. I felt like nobody saw me, so that’s where the project comes in.

“The project started when I was in hospital following my suicide attempt, and I wanted to tell other women they are seen, they are important and they matter.”

Mandy said that establishing her blog and sharing her experiences has given her a new and more positive perspective on life.

She has now set up an Empowered Woman Project podcast and is planning a YouTube channel.

Mandy added: “I don’t know what the future holds for me, but I now see light at the end of the tunnel which I didn’t see before.

“I shared my story, and it seems other women want to share theirs too.

“I hope the project will lift some of the taboo around mental health and offer a new space online and offline to share and support.

“The blog is now a podcast, and I hope it will continue to grow and do the good work it has been doing.

“I’d love to chat to high schoolgirls who are entering their teenage years about feeling empowered and taking care of their mental health.”

Mandy also expressed her sadness at the death of Scott Hutchison, lead singer with Selkirk indie band Frightened Rabbit, following a long struggle with mental health problems.

She said: “It was just terrible. My kindest regards go to his family and friends. Clearly there is a growing issue within men’s mental health too that we just aren’t talking about.”

To find out more about Mandy’s project, log on to theempowreedwomanproject.wordpress.com