The mother who could not live with the loss of her daughter — (The Scotsman)

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The Scotsman

Tuesday, Jan 15, 2008

SMILING together on holiday in Spain, Moira Vivian and her daughter Sheridan have their picture taken to record the kind of happy memories that fill millions of family albums.
Today, 15 months later, both of them are dead.Family and friends are grieving over the double tragedy of a teenager who struggled to cope with life and a mother who could not live without her.

The body of Mrs Vivian, a mother of three, was found on a hillside near Forfar, Angus, yesterday. It is understood she had taken a cocktail of drugs.

Six months ago, Sheridan Vivian, a psychology student at Dundee University, ended her life by taking an overdose of antidepressants at her grandmother”s home.

Last night, family members told how Mrs Vivian, a normally vivacious classroom assistant in a primary school, had been unable to cope after the death of her 19-year-old daughter.

Her parents discovered only after her death that Sheridan had issued an online cry for help in the weeks before she took her own life. On one social-networking site she called herself “Suicidal Idol”.

Mrs Vivian, 42, blamed herself for the death, telling relatives that she should have done more.  In the weeks that followed, she had been unable to eat or sleep and was being treated for depression.

Speaking from the family home, her husband, Leigh, an offshore worker, said: “I don”t think I’ll ever come to terms with what”s happened. I could never come to terms with the loss of my wife. She was my life.”

He went on: “Obviously, Sheridan’s death has had a major impact. She was thinking about it constantly and Moira never got over the loss of her first-born – never.”

“It seems to be a trait with suicide that, in the latter stages, people put on a different complexion to the way they are actually feeling and they hide things. I hope – I really hope – she’s at peace now.”

A huge search operation was launched after Mrs Vivian failed to return to her home in Dundee Loan, Forfar, last Wednesday. She told her family she was going to the cinema, but did not turn up.

Her body was found near a quarry at Balmashanner Hill, a popular beauty spot where she had walked daily her pet great dane, Gucci. Police said her body was discovered in undergrowth by a retired police officer out walking his dog, a short distance from one of the tracks leading to the summit.

Aside from her husband, Mrs Vivian leaves two daughters, Steffanie, 17, and Tammy, nine. Both are said to be inconsolable with grief.

The double suicide mirrors events in England last year, when Joanne Coombs took her own life under the wheels of a train – at the exact spot on the line where her 17-year-old daughter, Natasha, had been struck by a high-speed train.

In an emotional interview shortly before his wife”s body was discovered, Mr Vivian, 49, told The Scotsman he had left home to return to his job offshore after spending a happy Christmas and New Year at home, hopeful that his wife was beginning finally to come to terms with Sheridan”s death.

He said: “Every month, you would be looking forward, but there was always something negative to come back to that involved Sheridan. For the past six months, it has been constant negative.

“I wasn”t looking forward to Christmas, to be honest, but I was overwhelmed the way the family gelled together over those two weeks. It was better than anything I could possibly have imagined.

“I thought (Moira] was coping because of the way Christmas and New Year went,” Mr Vivian went on.

“On Hogmanay, she didn”t wait for the bells and had a couple of drinks before taking a couple of sleeping tablets and going to bed.

“She said, ”I just want this year to end and start afresh tomorrow for the New Year”. It was the most positive statement she had ever come out with since the loss of Sheridan.”

But Mr Vivian”s world began to collapse last Wednesday after he received a call on the Clyde platform from his eldest daughter to tell him his wife had gone missing.

The couple married on the Caribbean island of St Lucia and moved from Dundee to Forfar ten years ago. They were enjoying a normal, happy family life until they became aware of problems with Sheridan.

She had survived two previous suicide attempts – “cries for help”, according to her father – before she took her own life last July.

After Sheridan died, more than 4,000 e-mails from all over the world flooded into the family home as they began to discover that the teenager had repeatedly confessed to having suicidal feelings, in messages she posted on the internet.

Mr Vivian said: “Moira blamed herself for what happened. She had given Sheridan a little of bit of a telling-off the last time she spoke to her.

“There was no consoling her. She couldn”t eat. It was like somebody walking around in a circle, not knowing whether to go clockwise or anticlockwise.

“She was clinically depressed, understandably so. It took her a long time to come to terms with what had happened and to try and get some kind of normality in her life, but eventually she did go back to work, first two days a week and then, just before Christmas, for three days a week.”

He added: “I know she would disagree with this, but I think she”s a wonderful mother.”

EARLIER yesterday, before Mrs Vivian”s body was found, her sister Eileen Alexander also spoke of the traumatic impact that Sheridan”s death had on the family.

She said: “After Sheridan”s suicide in July, Moira was very, very depressed and ridden with guilt. She felt she could have done an awful lot better.

“I kept shouting at her to try and move on – life was for the living and not for the dead. But Moira would just look at me with those little eyes and say nothing.”

Ms Alexander, 52 went on: “I had to take her to the doctor”s on Christmas Eve because she was in her bed, saying she couldn”t do any more. She said, ”I just want the pain to go away”.

“When we came back from the doctor”s, she give me a big hug. Moira wasn”t a huggy person at all and, looking back with hindsight, you think, well, that”s her saying thank-you very much for everything.”

She added: “Suicide was quite a common topic in conversation with Moira. Most times we went out, she talked about suicide.

“And I know she told her mum not that long ago that she didn”t want to be here – she couldn”t go on. Moira said, ”I know the pain it”s going to cause”, but then she said to Mum, ”I couldn”t do that to you”.”

Last night, however, for the grieving family the pain had only begun.

A police spokeswoman said: “Tayside Police can confirm that the body of a woman found on Balmashanner Hill in Angus today has been identified as 42-year-old Moira Jane Vivian, of Dundee Loan, Forfar.

“There are no suspicious circumstances surrounding Moira”s death and, as with all sudden deaths, a report will be submitted to the procurator- fiscal in Forfar.”

A DOWNWARD SPIRAL

14 July, 2007: Sheridan Vivian, a psychology student at Dundee University, takes her own life with an overdose of antidepressants.
9 January, 2008: Her mother, Moira Vivian, a classroom assistant, tells her husband and two daughters she is going to the cinema, but fails to return. Leigh, her husband, says the family is “frantic” with worry.14 January: As police search the countryside around Forfar for the missing woman, her husband makes a public appeal for his wife to come home. He says she has not been sleeping or eating properly since Sheridan”s death.

15 January: A retired police officer walking his dog discovers the body of the 42-year-old on Balmashanner Hill. Her death comes almost six months to the day after the death of her oldest child.

THE LAST INTERVIEW

MOIRA Vivian spoke poignantly in a recent interview of her difficulties in coming to terms with the death of her daughter Sheridan. The school assistant at Langlands primary in Forfar, said: “The road to recovery would be thinking about her first thing in the morning and last thing at night, but at the moment I think about her every minute of every day.
“The shock of it all has gone now, but I still don”t want to accept she is gone. I can now understand why somebody would kill themselves because their child has died. It feels like nothing can make this better.”She also spoke of her feelings of guilt over Sheridan”s suicide: “I don”t blame anybody but myself – she couldn”t come to me and I should have been there for her. She cut me off, though.”

”I WANT TO BE LOVED – IS THAT SO MUCH TO ASK?”

IN THE days following the suicide of Sheridan Vivian, it was revealed that the 19-year-old psychology student had turned her personal website into an online cry for help.

On the Bebo social-networking website – where she called herself “Suicidal Idol” – she wrote in the weeks before she took her own life that her ambition was to become a counsellor, because her greatest love in life was helping others.

But she also revealed that she suffered from depression and other mental health problems: obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and an eating disorder.

She wrote: “I”m just some girl with a dream of a life worth living for. I want to become a counsellor – one of the best. I want to hang on to the people important to me – and not have them leave me.

“I want to be loved – is that so much to ask?”

She added: “I am dealing with depression, suicidality (sic], I have OCD and I worry too much. I self-harm and I”m dealing with an eating disorder.”

On Xanga, another networking site, she catalogued her self-destructive behaviour, which included taking pills, self-harming and an eating disorder.

In one entry, posted in March, four months before her suicide, she wrote: “Just waiting to finally fall. fall into the arms of suicide, because life doesn”t want me and I’m about to lose hope.”

In another entry on 3 July, Sheridan revealed that she had written a ten-page suicide note.

It also emerged that she had been acting as a mentor for other internet users on an eating disorders forum on the TeenHelp website.

One of the people Sheridan had helped wrote following her death: “I do not like posting about the death of a mentor, especially when it was suicide. It makes me feel as if there is something which maybe the TeenHelp community, or indeed myself, could have done to prevent it from happening. Sometimes there really is nothing you can do, though, especially when somebody is as set on taking their own life, as Sheri was.

“Reading back over her journal, it is clear that this was not a one-off attempt which went wrong; she had been planning it for months. A really terrible end to such a lovely girl”s life.”

The posting continued: “In the real world she was a third-year undergraduate at Dundee University. She was due to graduate next June. I cannot imagine what her real-life friends must be going through right now. Her sister came to TeenHelp to pass on information about her funeral, which is really a testament to her more than anything.”

Original article no longer available

SUICIDAL STUDENT’S BEBO CRY FOR HELP

18 July 2007

By Paula Murray

Despair poured out online

A DEPRESSED teenager turned her personal website into an online cry for help in the weeks before she took her own life.

Her friends used their Bebo pages to tell each other about their favourite music, films and hobbies.

But Sheridan Vivian, 19, opened up her heart on her page, posting a heartbreaking list of the devastating problems in her life and begged: “I want to be loved.”

She admitted to shocked fellow university students that she wanted to kill herself.

Then days after she last logged on to the site, Sheridan – who called herself “Suicidal Idol” online – overdosed on depression medication.

The psychology student at Dundee University signed up to Bebo just a few weeks ago.

She used the social networking site to catch up with friends from her course while they were on their summer holidays between their second and third years.

On her personal profile the voluntary worker told them she dreamed of becoming a counsellor because her greatest love in life was helping others.

But she also revealed how she suffered from depression and other mental health problems, obsessive compulsive disorder and an eating disorder.

Sheridan also admitted her biggest fear in life was rejection.

The student said she dreamed of having “a life worth living” – and in a heartbreaking confession, said that she wanted to take her own life.

Sheridan, of Forfar, Angus, wrote: “I’m just some girl with a dream of a life worth living for. I want to become acounsellor – one of the best.

“I want to hang on to the people important to me – and not have them leave me.

“I want to be loved – is that so much to ask?

“I am dealing with depression, suicidality, I have OCD and I worry too much.

“I self-harm and I’m dealing with an eating disorder.”

On Saturday, Sheridan, who was staying at home with her parents during the university holiday, died after taking an overdose of anti-depressants.

Friends, still to learn of her death, have continued to post comments on her page, asking about her holidays.

Yesterday, a police spokeswoman said there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding the death and said a report would be given to the procurator fiscal.