Family and friends of a freshman at Cambridge University have paid tribute to the ‘vibrant’ and ‘brilliant’ student and activist after she took her own life at her college on May 25. Yasmin Lajoie, who turned 34 barely ten days before her death, lived with borderline personality disorder (BPD).
Borderline personality disorder affects 2% of the UK population and is also known as emotionally unstable personality disorder. According to the NHS, it is the most commonly recognized personality disorder and affects the way someone thinks, feels and relates to others.
Yasmin began studying humanities, social and political sciences at Hughes Hall College, Cambridge, when she was 33. She previously worked in the music industry and lived in Hackney.
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Alongside her studies, Yasmin worked as a diversity advisor for the environmental charity EarthPercent and as an outreach worker for Amnesty Feminist, a network of activists advocating for the rights of women and girls. She has also written about her experiences with BPD and her life as a Métis woman.
On Yasmin’s 34th birthday, May 13, one of her friends sadly committed suicide. Yasmin tweeted that her friend had “experienced housing insecurity and unemployment due to chronic mental illness”.
She explained that she was “devastated” and “angry”. She also told her friends, “Please love each other fiercely and fearlessly. Life is such a fragile thing.
Yasmin’s mother, Vicky Taylor, said: “My beautiful and intelligent daughter Yasmin has always been very special and has made us and her family very proud. She was a fierce campaigner for those less fortunate than herself.
“We are all devastated by his death. She will be so missed by her family, including her grandparents, myself, her brother, uncles, cousins, and her niece and nephew. I just hope Yasmin has found peace now.
Yasmin’s friends and colleagues also paid tribute to her on social media after learning of her death. They shared links to his work and reminders to reach out to friends who may have mental health issues.
Linda Coogan Byrne, 39, artist and writer, met Yasmin through a shared interest in activism in 2020. She describes Yasmin as an “extremely intelligent woman”, who was “very warm and outspoken to the core” .
Byrne said: “We must not let his untimely death be in vain. We must learn from it. And to check our own sanity and support each other, if we do that more, we work together, we rise together.
Podcast host and journalist Nosheen Iqbal, who had worked with Yasmin, said on Twitter that she was “gutted and shocked” to hear the news of Yasmin’s death. Iqbal added: “She has already given so much to the world, but she still has a lot to do.”
In a statement, Dr Tori McKee, senior tutor at Hughes Hall College, where Yasmin was a student, said: ‘This sad news has come as a huge shock to our community, and we are focused on providing social support to the people affected.
“Yasmin embraced the diversity and vibrant lifestyle of Hughes Hall, as well as the many opportunities offered at Cambridge, and she will be greatly missed by all who knew her. Our thoughts are with Yasmin’s friends and family at this time.
You don’t have to suffer in silence if you have mental health issues. Here are some groups you can contact when you need help:
The Silver Line – free and confidential helpline for information, friendship and advice for the elderly: 0800 4 70 80 90
Samaritans: phone 116 123, 24 hours a day, or email firstname.lastname@example.org, confidential
Childline: Phone 0800 1111. Calls are free and will not appear on your bill
PAPYRUS: Voluntary organization to help suicidal teenagers and young adults. Telephone 0800 068 4141
Students Against Depression: A website for depressed, moody, or suicidal students. Click here to visit
Bullying UK: a website for children and adults affected by bullying. Click here
Campaign Against Living Miserable (CALM): for young men who feel unhappy. Has a website here and a helpline: 0800 58 58 58