Heaven just got a little more frisky.
A woman known for becoming a two-time British pole-dancing champion and being called a “national treasure” tragically died after she had hanged herself while fighting depression during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Twenty-seven-year-old Jessica Leanne Norris was discovered unconscious at a friend’s house in Bolton on June 15, 2020, according to The Sun.
“Don’t come in. Ring 999. I’m so sorry,” the suicidal dancer wrote in a note that she attached on her bedroom door, the outlet reported. 9-9-9 is the British equivalent to 9-1-1.
Another note addressed to Jessica’s grandmother found after the tragic suicide told her mom she loved her.
An inquest hearing saw evidence that concluded Norris’s death was at her own hands.
Norris, who claimed the title of Miss Pole Dance UK in 2011 and 2015, was fighting a battle with mental health issues since she was a teenager, the Sun reported.
“Jess led a life of structure, and struggled when lockdown meant that she could not teach or take part in pole-dancing competitions,” her mom, Alanna Norris, explained.
The champion dancer was said to have been treating her condition with antidepressants while being employed as a fitness instructor. She was staying with her friend Brian Compton at his home during the UK’s first quarantine.
Compton checked on her via text the morning she died while he was at his job, and she did not respond, according to The Sun. When he came back home, he found her body in the bedroom.
A toxicologist reported that there was no evidence of drugs or alcohol in her system at the time of death.
The passionate pole dancer put together her first studio when she was just 15 years old before starting a fundraiser for mental health charities in 2019.
People on social media shared their thoughts on depression and sympathized with the young dancer’s struggle. One user posted on Twitter:
“I hope and pray that everyone who is struggling w/ Depression, and sadly more, will get the help that’s needed to save their lives.”
Another Twitter user wrote, “What a waste of great talent.”
One user criticized the practice of pole dancing, saying “Pole dancing is such an empty unfulfilling pursuit I understand, poor girl must’ve been bored out of her mind,” while another responded, “It’s great exercise! I would blame draconian lockdown measures before something guaranteed to boost dopamine levels.”
The founder of Miss Pole Dance UK, Kay Penney, characterized Norris as a “national treasure.”
“Thank you for your contribution and as a true ambassador for the aerial arts, touching so many lives, hearts and souls, lifting many of us with your entertaining, unforgettable and mesmerizing routines,” Penney remarked to The Sun.
“Thank you for your unquestionable dedication and sharing your talent through many classes, master classes, camps, events and competitions,” she continued.
“You shone like a beacon of hope on so many stages and your legacy will live on forever in the history of pole and personally as my pole daughter, who constantly showed your gratitude over the years and during your reign as double female singles champion.”
Many remain increasingly concerned with the mental health of people during lockdown as suicides spike. Suicide rates in England and Wales have been at a 20-year upswing with concern that lockdowns are increasing risk factors such as loneliness and isolation.
According to the BBC, official figures have reported that an increased number of people have experienced symptoms of depression since the start of the pandemic.
Simon Jones of the mental health support charity Mind Cymru explained: “These are challenging times for us all, especially when restrictions are put in place which might prevent us being able to do the things that normally help us stay well, like seeing loved ones.
“But there are self-care techniques which can help improve your wellbeing and even prevent mental health problems developing or worsening, alongside help and support that can be accessed through mental health services.”