'I was broken' The Pembrokeshire mother running marathons to help 'heal' following death of her son

A mother from Pembrokeshire has said running is "helping her heal" following the death of her son which left her "broken".

Luke was 22 years old and had autism, which affected his mental health, his mother Lou told ITV News.

He also struggled to integrate and socialise in a neurotypical world after being diagnosed with the condition at the age of 13.

Luke was 22 years old when he took his own life

Lou Draycott said "Luke was kind and always considerate to others, high functioning and a thoroughly decent young man.

"He was doing really well, studying a Diploma in Performing and Production Arts at Pembrokeshire College. He'd also been offered two unconditional places at university. He was absolutely thrilled."

The family began to worry about his mental health in February 2022.

"He put a worrying post on Facebook saying how much he hated having autism and he'd rather not have been born at all than be born with autism.

"As he was starting to go out and interact more, he found it more difficult. He felt that he didn't understand people and they didn't understand him."

Lou (centre) with Luke (far right) and the family

"When he took his own life we were utterly devastated, I was broken. Luke wrote in a letter about not being able to go on, not being able to be himself unless he was with other autistic people."

Suicide is the main cause of death in young people under the age of 35 in the UK, and more than 200 schoolchildren are lost to suicide every year.

On average, more than five young people take their lives each day.

Lou said she chose to run 12 marathons in just eight months to help raise awareness of mental health causes and suicide prevention, as well as fundraise for charities Mind and Papyrus.

David Heald, Area Manager in Wales for Papyrus, said: "We're constantly touched by the efforts of people such as Lou, we're so grateful to her.

"We're not seeing a fall in the number of suicides, and what we've seen with the Hopeline is an increase in calls and the number of people that need help and support.

"Thoughts of suicide are common, but there are people out there to help. You can use our helpline 24 hours a day, 7 days a week."

Lou Draycott is running 12 marathons in eight months in her son's memory

Speaking of her progress, Lou said: "You never get over suicide - you just work towards a place where you learn to accept it and live with it.

"I've ran four marathons so far, I've got eight to go. These marathons have given me a focus and a way of doing something positive in Luke's memory. It's helped me as well, in healing."

She has raised £3,150 for Mind and Papyrus since starting her marathon challenge in April.

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