When the curtains rolled back, you could pretty much guarantee Molly Hurst would be shining, centre stage.
From a young age, Molly was the star of every school play and loving every moment in the spotlight. A star in the making, everybody knew the stage was where she belonged.
Molly’s mum and dad, Linda and Dave, are still coming to terms with the loss of their beautiful girl to suicide in May 2017. Trapped in an unbearable cycle of depression, Molly could no longer recognise her own self-worth when she died aged just 22.
Dad Dave, Molly, and mum Linda
Now, her mum and dad are determined to support other young people through mental illness, with a charitable fund in Molly’s memory.
She was so, so talented
It came as no surprise to the Hurst family when Molly announced that she wanted to pursue acting as a career. After she finished sixth form college in Sheffield, Molly successfully auditioned and won a place at top London drama school, LAMDA. She thrived on the year-long acting course, absolutely driven towards what she wanted to achieve.
“She was so talented,” says her mum, Linda.
Beautiful, with lots of good friends and an outgoing personality as bright as her long blonde-and-pink hair, it was hard to imagine that Molly was not as confident as she seemed. A force of nature on the stage, she inwardly struggled to be the outgoing girl that people were familiar with.
“Molly was a sensitive soul, who concealed her inner emotions from most people,” explains Linda, who realised when Molly was in her late teens that she was struggling with depression.
Worryingly, her ups and downs became more severe.
She was happy when she whistled.
“You could always tell when she was happy, because she whistled, but when she was sad, neither she – nor we – could get her out of this situation,” says Linda.
“No matter how much we and her friends tried to help her, it was never enough. This is when we noticed that she was self-harming and even made a cry for help by taking an overdose.”
As a family, the Hursts recognised that Molly had a serious illness, and that her depression was not a ‘state of mind’.
It was hard to imagine that Molly was not as confident as she seemed
To help, they arranged for her to have counselling and supported her to try physical activities in a bid to increase her natural mood-enhancing serotonin levels.
It came as a blow for Molly when she didn’t secure a place for drama school full-time, which had a huge impact on her emotional wellbeing.
But, working hard to be active for her health, Molly discovered another talent – in tennis – and joined Sheffield’s Abbeydale Tennis Club, which she declared her favourite place.
“Playing tennis helped her to keep her mind off things,” said Linda, “she really, really enjoyed it. No one there knew she had problems because it was where she was happiest.
On holiday in Dubai
“She would often call up my husband Dave, after a match and ask him if he wanted to go to the pub for a post-match pint.”
When Molly won tickets to watch a Wimbledon match in 2016, she invited her Dad to join her and the pair had a blast.
When she was good, she was great
“One of my favourite memories is seeing her in her Wimbledon hat, holding her Wimbledon glass” smiles Linda.
Through their depression, people can experience hope-inducing, spirit-lifting good days, when it can seem like the grey clouds have almost have gone away.
“When she was good, she was great,” says Linda.
“She was lovely to be around, and would kiss us and tell us how much she loved us. We miss her everyday.”
But depression can become an overwhelming fog through which it’s very hard to feel, or see clearly. Molly’s depression stretched far beyond processing the impact that taking her own life might have.
Besides the sea: A much younger Molly on the beach
In the weeks leading up to her death, Molly had seemed more like her old, upbeat self. But in the days before she died, she suffered mood swings and, unbeknown to her mum and dad, had stopped taking her medication.
“We were not aware at the time that she had stopped her antidepressants and there didn’t appear to be any indication of what she was about to do,” says Linda.
Linda and Dave felt there were not enough local and charitable services available for people, to bridge the gap in the NHS’s overstretched mental health services.
So in Molly’s memory, they have set up a charitable fund for mental health support in conjunction with South Yorkshire’s Community Foundation.
Molly at her prom
The Young People’s Health and Wellbeing Fund will provide financial support to community organisations and charities supporting young people’s mental health.
“Even if it means helping a youth group to socialise,” Linda says.
“The money will be for any community in South Yorkshire, aged between 10 and 26, to improve their state of health and wellbeing.”
“With everyone’s help we can make a difference, we can ensure the right level of intervention is there for those who are struggling like Molly was.
Molly’s memorial fund will also help support families and individuals whose lives have been touched by the suicide of someone they loved.
“If we can prevent anyone else from experiencing a loss like ours,” says Linda, “we will have achieved our purpose.”
- To donate to the Young People’s Health and Wellbeing Fund in memory of Molly, please visit www.justgiving.com/sycf where you can also find out more about how to be involved in the campaign.