The devastated mum of a ‘strong, sweet and kind’ 12-year-old girl who went for a walk on Mother’s Day and never returned home has called for greater access to children’s mental health support.
Lauren Rafferty tragically ended her own life that Sunday after battling mental health demons for the past two years in the New South Wales Riverina town of Wagga Wagga.
Her heartbroken mother Rachelle told Daily Mail Australia that numerous attempts were made to help Lauren, who was living with ‘a greater sadness than any of us could fathom’, but the family struggled to find the support they desperately needed.
She is now calling for improved access to mental health support, particularly for those living in regional areas, but also urged every Australian to be kinder to one another to improve the world children grow up in.
Lauren Rafferty (pictured) tragically died on Mother’s Day after battling mental health demons for the past two years in the NSW Riverina town of Wagga Wagga
Her heartbroken mother Rachelle told Daily Mail Australia that numerous attempts were made to help Lauren (pictured) but the family struggled to find the support they desperately needed
‘The loss of Lauren has shattered and devastated our family,’ Ms Rafferty said.
‘As parents, we thought we were doing everything right by our children, and tried daily to do our best.
‘Since Lauren’s death on Mother’s Day, and subsequent thorough investigation, we now know how far the cumulative effect of systematic failure contributed.
‘Numerous attempts over the last two years were made to help Lauren.
‘We had difficulty navigating and accessing mental health support for children, especially in regional areas.’
There has been widespread conjecture from in the tight-knit community that Lauren was a victim of bullying at her school.
But Ms Rafferty said that while her daughter did experience bullying, it was no more than the typically cruel behaviour levelled at most girls her age.
‘Lauren suffered the same level of bullying that any girl of her age does- which is still unacceptable,’ her mother said.
‘It’s our responsibility to improve the human race mentally and environmentally so that we all can shine instead of suffer.’
Lauren is pictured visiting the elderly at Christmas time in 2020 (left) and strawberry picking with her brother (right)
Parents Brent and Rachelle, who also have an older son Owen, say they believe the lack of access to the support their daughter deserved only worsened her struggle.
Although the Kooringal High School student was a ‘sweet, strong, kind, quick-witted, creative and beautiful soul,’ her mother said she struggled to shine in an increasingly ‘cruel’ world.
‘Lauren had a greater sadness than any of us could fathom, which spiralled and deepened,’ Ms Rafferty said.
‘Lauren’s sweet, strong, kind, quick-witted, creative and beautiful soul struggled to shine in this world that is ever increasingly cruel and relentless.
‘It is our wish that the world could have more peace, kindness and generosity towards one another – starting with our own community.’
Ms Rafferty said Lauren only suffered the same level of bullying that any girl of her age does. Pictured: Kooringal High School where she was a Year 7 student
Lauren’s school principal, Helen Schmetzer, said the past two weeks have been ‘sad and challenging’ for Kooringal High School.
‘As we grieve the loss of one of our Year 7 students, we would like to extend our thoughts and deepest sympathies to her family and friends at this time,’ she said.
‘Our Wellbeing team has been a fantastic support for both students and staff alike and we cannot thank them enough for their efforts.’
If you or anyone you know is in need of mental health support you can call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636.