Published: 14:00, 10 September 2021
| Updated: 00:37, 11 September 2021
The heartbroken sister of a young mum who took her own life says she wishes she had been more patient with her sibling as she battled mental health issues.
Libbie and partner Joshua Johnson shared a baby boy, Elijah, who was just 10 months old at the time of the tragedy.
Josh and Libbie's sister Natalie Ludford then had to make the heart-wrenching decision together to turn off Libbie's life support at Tunbridge Wells Hospital. It was the 16th anniversary of her mother's death.
Talented Gravesend-born singer Libbie was diagnosed with Stevens-Johnson Syndrome - a rare and serious skin disorder - and also suffered from depression and alcoholism.
But marking World Suicide Prevention Day today, 39-year-old Natalie said: “It is really important not to get frustrated because it is easy to get frustrated with people who are struggling.
“But now, I feel we could have done with being a bit more patient.
“It is important to remember, whether it is drug or alcohol misuse, it is an illness. They are not necessarily responsible for a lot of their actions.”
Josh added: “If you are feeling like that, just make sure there is someone there you can talk to.”
After a tough upbringing, losing her mum at the age of just 14, Libbie bought herself a one-way ticket to Spain.
There, she signed a record contract with Erik Nova, and her beautiful voice led her to perform her track 'Cry With Me' at Benidorm Palace.
Her boyfriend said: “She was really good. She worked the bars in Spain.
“They liked her doing it because she just drew the crowds in.”
Libbie had already had to deal with the death of her then-fiancé, Craig, while living in Spain.
After having nine months in a Valencian hospital for life-saving treatment having been diagnosed with Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, Libbie then flew back to the UK.
In a statement, Natalie said: “I would describe our relationship as close over the last couple of years. She lived in Spain and there were breaks in communication.
“But we tried to stay in touch as much as possible.
“She was a really bubbly person who lived to entertain.”
It was at this point Joshua decided to reach out to Libbie on social media. The pair had attended Meopham School together.
Baby Elijah was born prematurely last year, weighing just 1lb 1oz, and given a five per cent chance of surviving the first five days. The patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) valve in his heart was not operating correctly and he had a bleed on the brain.
Libbie was only 22 weeks into her pregnancy when her waters broke. But Elijah, remarkably, battled through.
Natalie said: "She had so much love for that baby."
But Libbie’s troubles worsened in March this year.
She attempted to overdose on prescription drugs, near Strood train station, that month and was told to move out of her boyfriend’s Snodland home soon after. In the same month she was referred to Priority House, a mental health facility in Maidstone.
“It all started when she had to move out of the property. They had no accommodation for her to go to,” Josh said.
“They didn’t offer her any support, really. She was let down by a lot of people.”
Libbie continued to struggle and, in a statement read out by assistant coroner Alan Blunsdon on behalf of the clinical manager at Priority House, Juliette Feddon, it was explained Libbie dreaded going to sleep. She would have nightmares and wake up with scratches she was previously unaware of.
She also had a spell looking for accommodation, staying briefly with her sister - even in a tent in the back garden - but this was only ever a temporary measure as there were no spare bedrooms at Natalie’s home.
On the day she hanged herself, she had been due to see Josh and son Elijah.
The family questioned whether it had been a cry for help.
But Mr Blunsdon said: “I’m satisfied that, on the balance of probabilities, that, on this occasion, it was her intention to take her own life.”