Teenager who died in woods had written cryptic note which said 'Help me' when turned round

This post first appeared on Nottingham Post. Read the original article.

A grieving mother has spoken about the cryptic doodle which was found amongst her dead daughter’s possessions - and how the note is now helping her to raise funds for a suicide prevention charity.

The body of Helen Cousin's daughter Maisie Cousin-Stirk, 16, was found in woodland near her house in Misterton in the early hours of Tuesday, June 20, after she had been reported missing.

Just hours after her body was discovered, her sister Amy Cousin, 27, was in Maisie’s bedroom when she found the message on top of some drawers.

Read one way, the note said, ‘I’m fine’.

The note found in Maisie's room, which reads 'help me' when held one way and 'I'm fine' when turned the other way.

But turned upside down, it read, ‘Help me’.

The doodle found in Maisie's room, which reads 'help me' when held one way and 'I'm fine' when turned the other way.

The doodle found in Maisie's room, which reads 'help me' when held one way and 'I'm fine' when turned the other way.

Helen Cousin, 46, a teaching assistant who was identifying Maisie’s body at the mortuary at the time of the discovery, believes her daughter was depressed and took her own life.

Admitting she had no idea Maisie was depressed, she said: “I never thought she would do this. We were very close and she was always by my side. I really thought she could talk to me about anything.

“I had no idea she was hiding these feelings, and I hope that I can just help other teenagers now to speak to someone before it is too late.”

Maisie, who was deciding whether to go to college and complete a childcare course or go to sixth form to do her A-Levels, died on June 19, just days after completing her GCSE exams.

The last picture of Maisie, taken the day before she died

The last picture of Maisie, taken the day before she died

It was the day of her school leavers’ assembly, but she had decided not to go as it was optional.

“Normally I would have a chat with her before work, but I thought she’d want to lie in on her first day off,” recalled Helen. “Just before I left, she shouted out to me and I said a quick goodbye.”

In the days before her tragic death, Helen, Maisie and her younger brother Oliver, 12, had been planning for their family holiday together at the beginning of August to Crete.

Helen said: “We had such a lovely day on the Saturday before she died. The sun was shining and we went to the optician to get Maisie her first pair of prescription sunglasses.

"She was really excited about going away. We were making plans for the summer.

“I remember walking through town behind Maisie and Oliver and just thinking how lucky I was.”

Maisie with mum Helen and younger brother Oliver

Maisie with mum Helen and younger brother Oliver

On June 19, Maisie spent the morning with sister Amy and her children Joel, 4, and Scarlett, ten months.

Helen said: “She loved her nieces and nephews, and they couldn’t wait to spend time with her. Her older brother Luke, 24, also has a little girl called Esme.

“Maisie spent most of her free time with them and wanted to work with kids when she was older. It breaks my heart that there are three little people who won’t have auntie Maisie anymore.”

Maisie told her sister she was going to the shop to buy some cookies but, instead, she went home and took the family dog Diesel for a walk.

Helen caught sight of her at around 3pm that afternoon, heading home from her walk across the fields around the primary school where she works, just behind their family house.

But when she got home at 5.30pm, after working extra hours helping with cleaning, she realised Maisie was not home and assumed she was still with her sister.

Maisie with her nephew Joel and niece Scarlett, early 2017

Maisie with her nephew Joel and niece Scarlett, early 2017

“She was a 16-year-old so she was used to doing her own thing,” said Helen, who is no longer with Maisie’s dad, Mick, 51. “I just thought she was spending time with her niece and nephew, or maybe she was at her dad’s.”

Helen took Oliver to youth club, but on her way home at 6.30pm, she received a message from Maisie’s best friend, asking if she had spoken to her, as she hadn’t heard from her all day.

Concerned by the message, Helen rang Amy, but Maisie was not with her. She also called Mick, who lives nearby, but he hadn’t seen her either.

Anxious, as she ran out of places to check, Helen phoned the police, reporting Maisie missing.

Within an hour of posting about her daughter on Facebook, the community formed a search party - scouring fields and streets, looking for Maisie.

Maisie paintballing for her brother's birthday (Collect/PA Real Life)

Helen said: “I had all sorts of things running through my head. It was really hot that day and I thought maybe she had passed out somewhere. I never imagined she would do anything to hurt herself.”

Sadly, around 5am the following day, Amy’s partner Liam Hunter, 24, was on the phone to Helen, when he discovered Maisie’s body in a lane only a few minutes from their house.

Helen said: “I just screamed and screamed. I couldn’t believe this had happened to us.

“I had no idea that Maisie was feeling so bad that she felt she had to do this. I don’t know why and I don’t think I ever will.”

The next day, Helen and Mick travelled to Nottingham to identify Maisie’s body.

Trying to feel closer to her sister, Amy looked through the things she had left in her bedroom and discovered the note, carrying the two opposing messages – showing it to her mum when she got home.

Maisie and sister Amy at a JLS concert

Maisie and sister Amy at a JLS concert

“I couldn’t stop thinking about the note,” Helen said. “There are kids out there, like Maisie, who don’t talk about their problems or seem to be upset. This summed it up for me.

“I woke up in the middle of the night and realised I wanted to use her doodle to do something positive.

“I looked at a few companies then and emailed the Lapel Pin Company about creating some badges, carrying the same message, and in the morning I woke up to a response them.”

As they prepared for Maisie’s funeral at Misterton on July 13, 750 of the badges arrived and Helen shared them with friends and family.

Maisie and her niece Esme

Maisie and her niece Esme

Within days, they had all gone and Helen decided to do something positive with the money raised by their sale, and a JustGiving page was set up in Maisie’s memory, using her cryptic note as the logo for her campaign.

The family are also raising money through JustGiving to create a sensory garden at the primary school where Helen works.

In addition, Helen is fundraising for the suicide prevention charity Papyrus, who she hopes to work with to train teachers and school staff across the country in how to deal with depression and suicidal thoughts in young people.

And, despite still struggling to come to terms with her grief, Helen is determined to speak out to help other children.

Maisie, summer 2016

Maisie, summer 2016

“Maisie was a fantastic daughter. She was doing well at school. She didn’t have loads of friends, but I think she wanted it that way and she had a few very close friends. I know they had fallings out and there were stresses and worries, but I thought those were just normal teenage things.

“She didn’t leave any letters or anything explaining why. I have so many unanswered questions but now I just want to raise money and awareness so maybe I can stop another family having to go through this.”

The full inquest into Maisie's death will be held on October 26. The opening of the inquest heard that she was found in circumstances consistent with having taken her own life.

* For more information about the campaign, visit https://www.facebook.com/itstimetotalksuicideawareness/

* You can call the Samaritans free any time from any phone on 116 123 (this number is free to call and will not appear on your phone bill). Alternatively, email jo@samaritans.org or visit https://www.samaritans.org.