Suffolk: Young people must be more aware of diabetes

IPSWICH: Young people must be more aware of diabetes, says a woman whose sister died after she stopped taking her daily injections of insulin.

Rebecca Halls believes youngsters need more information on the symptoms and the opportunity to have counselling if they are diagnosed with the condition.

The 20-year-old’s older sister Rikki was found dead in her uncle’s house in Ipswich on December 10.

She was discovered face down on her bed at the Newson Road residence and it is thought she passed away on December 7 after falling into a coma. She was 23.

A post mortem revealed there was no insulin in Rikki’s body at the time of her death and Rebecca believes sharing her sister’s story may help other young people who are trying to accept being diabetic.

The former Otley College student was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the end of 2008.

Twenty-one at the time, she went from being an active young woman to suffering regular bouts of severe fatigue and losing a dramatic amount of weight.

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The changes in Rikki’s appearance and energy levels were remarkably quick.

Rebecca said: “It happened overnight, we couldn’t believe the change at the time. The night she was diagnosed, my mum was with Rikki and she had a really high temperature.

“She couldn’t stop being sick so we called an ambulance. On the way to the hospital, the paramedics said they thought she had diabetes.”

Despite being diagnosed with the life-changing condition and injecting four doses of insulin everyday, Rikki tried to maintain her lifestyle and continued with her animal care course at college.

Rather than discuss the effect diabetes was having on her, the former Stoke High School pupil refused to let it interfere with her ambition to work with animals and her social life.

However, Rebecca believes she never fully accepted having the condition.

“She never let diabetes rule her life, but she never came to terms with having it either,” she said.

“She found it hard to deal with and talk about. When she did speak about it, she would brush over it.”

She added: “I think she didn’t want people to look at her differently or think she was sick.”

Almost six months on, Rikki’s death continues to be mourned by her family and Rebecca is determined to raise awareness of diabetes among young people.

“They need to be more aware of diabetes because if it is not detected it can ruin lives,” she said.

“I think they probably need counselling or help to deal with it if they are diagnosed.”

Rebecca added: “My sister was very active and had a lot of friends. She lived life to the full and never got down or upset, and she loved her dogs.”