Suicide is a very heavy subject and matter to talk about with just about anybody. Nobody likes to feel vulnerable or let others know exactly how they feel. Even when it’s causing them so much suffering. Regardless of suicide awareness month being in September, there will always be people who need help. The story of Caitlin O’Reilly will hopefully open the eye’s of many about how important suicide awareness is.
Caitlyn O’Reilly’s Story
The 20-year-old former St John Fisher Catholic College student lived in Newcastle, England. She was out with her friends before she inevitably took her own life that night. O’Reilly’s body was discovered at the Premier Inn at Manchester Central. She had been suffering from lifelong trauma that haunted her ever since she was a young teenager.
O’Reilly’s parents shared their daughters tragic story. At only 13 years of age, Caitlin was being sexually groomed by an older man. The young woman’s parents said that ever since that happened, O’Reilly’s mental health had been rapidly declining.
Caitlin’s mother, Kay Speedman, saw the warning signs.
“When we found out what had happened to her when she was 13, that was a big change in everybody’s life. At the time I was a police officer and I was on constant alert. She always thought that she was not worthy. The first time she came home from high school, I thought somebody had bullied her. She had got ‘not good enough’ written with a black pen down her forearm. I said ‘who’s done that to you’. She looked at me and said ‘it was me’.” (1)
Why Would Suicide Awareness Help?
The life of a young teenager comes with many obstacles that force their brains to figure out right from wrong. At 13, you’re focused on your identity as a whole. This is because you technically still have no idea who you are. Unfortunately, this makes young teenagers very susceptible to adult figures. Many kids try to attach themselves to mature people they can claim as idols or role models. However, this can result in some very problematic and serious issues. This is why suicide awareness is extremely important, particularly at this age.
“The problem we had is that at an early age, when she wasn’t ready, she was dealing with adult emotions and didn’t know how to. I knew her inside out. I’d be on pins thinking when I get home I am going to find blood in the bath when she self harmed or she is going to be unconscious on the bed.” O’Reilly’s parents said. (1)
The Long Road To Recovery & Suicide Awareness
According to Caitlin’s parents, “She was always on the outskirts of the popular group. She never quite fit in or felt like she belonged, that stayed with her throughout into adulthood. Even when she was suffering with her own mental health she would stay up on social media for hours at night helping other kids. They would see at school that she had self-harmed and didn’t dare speak to her.”
O’Reilly found it within herself to try to help others overcome their trauma. Despite trying to recover from her own experience, O’Reilly was a beacon of hope to those who reached out. She couldn’t stand to see others going through the same pain that she was in. Spreading her own suicide awareness to her friends and fellow desperate students seeking help.
“At night she’d get a message ‘I’ve self harmed, what do I do’. She would sit up until the early hours talking to them… telling them they must do something about it and seek help. She would spend hours helping other people but she could never help herself.” Speedman adds on. (1)
Why Suicide Awareness Is Important
Suicide awareness isn’t just important to adults, it’s extremely important for kids. Young adults can suffer from depression at very young ages due to a variety of factors. However, the key element to battling depression is being able to talk about it. Kids and a lot of adults will go a very long time repressing their feelings. Often not telling anybody about it until it’s too late. It’s important, not only for parents to recognize red flags, but friends as well.
As a result of Caitlin O’Reilly’s very tragic story, her parents have started their own suicide awareness T-shirts for purchase. The line of clothing is called the Caitlin collection. The ‘Positivi-tee’ features six tops, each with different slogans including Peng Ting Inside, You Glow Gurl and Always Worthy, Always Good Enough. All of the proceeds from sales will go to the Caitlin O’Reilly Fund. The fund offers young people mental health support packages and early intervention. (1)
In addition, Charity founder, Dawn Reynolds stated, “The T-shirts are all about her legacy and her history. Out of her death there will be life for other people. For all the people feeling low, suffering from anxiety and depression and are thinking about taking their own life, our message is don’t give up. Tomorrow holds the answers to today’s problems. In a world where young people are given negative messages often through social media, and the pressures that they face, for us it’s really important that they see that there is hope and they have got a purpose.”
If You Know Someone in Crisis…
Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (Lifeline) at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or text the Crisis Text Line (text HELLO to 741741). Both services are free and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The deaf and hard of hearing can contact the Lifeline via TTY at 1-800-799-4889. All calls are confidential. Contact social media outlets directly if you are concerned about a friend’s social media updates or dial 911 in an emergency. Learn more on the Lifeline’s website or the Crisis Text Line’s website. (2)
If you’re in Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, or anywhere else around the world reach out to your local helplines.
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