Victoria: Tash Lambert speaks out to raise awareness after daughter Josie’s death

A heartbroken mother has shared the harrowing final words she received from her daughter before she took her own life.

Tash Lambert received the devastating news no mother wants to hear on February 2.

Her beloved 17-year-old daughter Josie had taken her own life less than three months after moving to Queensland from her home in Victoria.

“I keep thinking, ‘When did she start going backwards’?” Ms Lambert told NCA NewsWire.

“When did things start getting really bad?”

In November 2022, Josie had moved to Queensland to live with her boyfriend after struggling through months of remote learning during lockdowns in Victoria.

“I used to speak to her daily on Messenger. There was no sign that this was happening in her mind,” Ms Lambert said.

“She was very happy, she sent constant text messages, ‘I love you Mama. Love you so much. I miss you’.

“I could see in a lot of her messages that she missed home terribly, but she didn’t want to leave.”

Ms Lambert told NCA NewsWire of the harrowing last words she received from her daughter on the morning she took her life.

“We had no warning signs,” she said.

“The morning that she did this, she messaged me and said she hopes that her brothers have a fun first day at high school and that she loves them and she’ll talk to me later.

“That was the last thing she said. There’s no signs there to say that any of that was gonna happen.”

She said her daughter had an infectious smile and would walk into a room grinning and laughing all the time.

“You could try and ask her what’s so funny, but she’d be laughing so much she couldn’t talk, and then she’d make you laugh.

“We had this bond where we like straightened each other’s hair and just you know connected like that.”

Josie was an animal lover and had dreams of becoming a veterinary nurse when she finished school.

“She just loved animals,” Ms Lambert said.

“She would pick up any stray animal, even if it was a lizard.

“She would be the kind of girl to pick a koala out of a tree and hold it if she could.”

Ms Lambert said Josie had previously been on a waitlist to see a counsellor but didn’t want to go.

“That’s the thing that worries me, if there are children that are at the age of 16 that can decide what they can and can’t do,” she said.

“So how do you help a child that is needing help and has struggles with their mental health but they don’t want to go? There has to be something that we can do.

“I believe parents should be allowed to be more involved when it comes to mental health.

“If it’s jobs, if it’s a car licence – whatever, that’s fine, do that. But when it comes to a child’s mental health, I believe a parent needs to be able to have a say until the child is 18.”

Ms Lambert said some of Josie’s organs were able to be donated and have saved the lives of eight other people.

“I’m very happy for that knowing that a part of her is still somewhere,” she said.

Others have shared tributes to the teenager on social media, with one business creating jewellery designed to raise suicide awareness.

Doll House Jewellery designed blue heart earrings to raise money to bring Josie home and for her funeral costs.

“This is a fundraiser to help out some friends of ours from back home who have recently lost their daughter to suicide,” the small business shared.

Ms Lambert said she was going to be out of pocket by about $19,000 – money she needed to bring Josie home to Victoria and to give her a proper farewell.

She said the funeral home had offered her a payment plan, but she couldn’t bring herself to agree to that.

“I don‘t want to be paying off my daughter’s funeral. He offered a payment plan. I just can’t. I understand payment plans for utilities, but I do not agree with payment plans for funerals,” she said.

Friends of Ms Lambert and her family have set up a Go Fund Me page to help bring Josie home, and anyone who would like to help can do so here.

Ms Lambert wants to share her daughter’s story in hope of helping other struggling teens realise they have options.

“If you‘re feeling like you’re in a dark space, just open up and speak to family,” she said.

“It’s OK obviously to not be OK, just don’t keep yourself in the dark and be alone.

“You need to speak to someone even if it’s a friend if you can’t open up to your parents. If you can’t speak at all, write a letter. Even if you write a letter and you leave it on a on a bench or something so that someone gets it because then we can help.”

In the week after losing Josie, Ms Lambert said she was taking every day one minute at a time and letting herself grieve.

“As much as I believe in the words stay strong, and I do believe we should stay strong, when it comes to losing children to the way that I lost Josie, it’s not my time to stay strong right now,” she said.

“I need to be able to cry, I need to be able to have my emotions and I should not be strong right now, but I do believe I should be strong as time goes on.”

Originally published as ‘No warning signs’: Tash Lambert speaks out to raise awareness after teen’s death

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