Mother, 66, left ‘absolutely shattered’ after her daughter and son kill themselves within five years of each other

A grieving mother has spoken of her heartbreak after two of her children took their own lives within five years of each other.

Leanda Kelly, 66, said her heart was left ‘absolutely shattered’ by the deaths of her daughter Tanya in 2018, followed by that of her son Steve – who became depressed after Tanya’s death – last year.

Tanya died age 44 six years ago after a long battle with an eating disorder and bipolar disorder and Steve chose to end his own life at the same age five years later – in part because he did not want to live longer than his beloved sister.

Leanda, from St Albans, Hertfordshire, said: ‘I now walk in these ugly shoes that nobody wants to wear, shoes I can never ever take off.

‘I shall do all I can to help other parents from having to wear these shoes.

Grieving mother Leanda Kelly, 66, has spoken of her heartbreak after her son Steve (seen with his mother) and her daughter Tanya took their own lives within five years of each other

Tanya (pictured) killed herself in 2018 aged 44, five years before Steve took his life at the same age last year

Tanya (pictured) killed herself in 2018 aged 44, five years before Steve took his life at the same age last year

‘My heart shattered and it will never be mended.

‘Getting people to talk and know it’s okay to talk and say you are not okay is something I need to get across to everyone.

‘Don’t suffer in silence, reach out to someone, there are hands that will grab yours – mine being one of them. I give great hugs and those are free.’

Tanya took her life on December 17, 2018 following a long struggle with her mental health including challenges with an eating disorder and bipolar disorder.

Leanda, also known as Landy, said her daughter had ‘the most beautiful heart’ but was ‘also sad and very broken.’

She explained: ‘Tanya was stunningly beautiful – and I don’t just say that because she was my daughter. She used to turn heads.

‘She was funny, cheeky but she was also sad and was very broken.

‘She suffered from an eating disorder from an early age and she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

‘She was still the life and soul but her struggles got worse as she got older and she would never accept that anyone could love her. She thought she wasn’t worthy of it.

‘My daughter took a very long route to taking her life because I kept saving her, she chose to destroy her body and I couldn’t save her.

‘We watched her take her life in a very long process and it was awful to watch.’

Steve was hit incredibly hard by the loss of his sister and fell into addiction, but was four years sober at the time of his death.

Landy said: ‘I always called Stevie my naughty baby. He was cheeky and mischievous – you couldn’t tell him off because he would make you laugh.

‘At 15, he fell into a horrible crowd and starting experimenting with substances. He worked hard to turn his life around.

‘When Stevie told me I was going to be a grandma, I was overjoyed and knew it was going to be the start of something new.’

Leanda, also known as Landy, said she thought Steve becoming a father 'was going to be the start of something new' before he fell into a deep depression after his sister's death

Leanda, also known as Landy, said she thought Steve becoming a father ‘was going to be the start of something new’ before he fell into a deep depression after his sister’s death

Steve had been sober for four years when he fell into a deep depression.

He took his own life in July 2023, leaving behind two daughters. He was 44 years old – the same age as Tanya when she died.

Landy said: ‘In his head he couldn’t live any longer than his sister.

‘With his girlfriend, I thought he’d found true happiness. This time last year I felt like for the first time in my life I wasn’t worried about him and wasn’t calling him every day to make sure he was still alive.

‘His girlfriend found him dead in his flat, an image we can’t ever get out of our heads.

‘He was still so hurt inside.’

Now, Landy is aiming to raise £10,000 for three charities by the end of the week after organising events where people can get a semicolon tattoo.

The designs are seen as a symbol of hope and are common among suicide survivors.

The grieving mother is determined to both honour her children and prevent other parents from suffering the same heartbreak.

Landy made contact with Pure Colours, a tattoo studio in St Albans, and they arranged a semicolon tattoo event, with proceeds going to charities SANE, Mind in Mid Herts and St Albans Action for Homeless.

She explained: ‘The semicolon tattoo is about showing that your story hasn’t ended and you’re in control of giving it a happy ending.

‘It’s not a full stop or comma, its an affirmation of how your life continues.’

On June 1, Landy got her own semicolon tattoo, which doubles up as a dragonfly, and raised almost £7,000 from 302 tattoos which continued into June 2.

Since then, more than £1,500 has been raised in additional donations, with a third event set for June 29 due to popular demand with the total so far at £8,744.

Another 302 tattoos are already booked in for this weekend, so Landy expects the donations to exceed £10,000.

Now, Leanda, from St Albans, Hertfordshire, is aiming to raise £10,000 for charity by the end of the week after organising events where people can get semicolon tattoos (Landy's pictured), which are a symbol of hope common among suicide survivors

Now, Leanda, from St Albans, Hertfordshire, is aiming to raise £10,000 for charity by the end of the week after organising events where people can get semicolon tattoos (Landy’s pictured), which are a symbol of hope common among suicide survivors

She added: ‘It shows how absolutely loved they are. There is so much love, support, and respect.

‘This isn’t for sympathy or for me, it’s about them and about other people who are suffering because they’ve lost their loved ones.

‘Steve was a kind, caring and handsome boy who had a heart of gold and helped so many people.

‘He would do anything for anyone, and this was apparent as people spoke about him at his funeral, I actually didn’t realise just how much he did for others.

‘The same was said about Tanya – sadly they didn’t take their own advice.

‘Raising awareness and understanding towards mental health is so important. The funds are an absolute bonus.

‘Talk. I always ask people twice if you’re okay. Ask them and then ask them again to find out how they really feel.

‘Learn to talk about your problems and then learn to listen to others. Just be kind.’

For confidential support, call the Samaritans on 116123 or visit samaritans.org 

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