Kate’s life has been devastated by the deaths of two of her daughters. They took their own lives by hanging, in 2006 & 2007. Kate has had support from family, friends and the church and says that answering emails from members of POS has also helped.
Kate had five children, four girls and a son. Interviewed seven months after the death of her second daughter (who was called Anna) Kate explained that in 2005 her ex-husband committed suicide by drowning. He killed himself on their youngest daughter’s birthday. Izzy, their youngest daughter, was very upset that he had chosen her birthday to take his own life.
In 2006 Izzy was aged 17. When she was aged 13 she had been excluded from school and had been in some trouble with the police and had been put in care, but in 2006 she returned to school. She only went to school for a couple of hours a week but passed her O’ level English with a B’ grade. She also found a job selling hot dogs and hamburgers, which she enjoyed. She was given a small flat for accommodation and she talked about joining the army.
In November 2006 Izzy was upset because a colleague had died by suicide. She became very drunk one night, left the family home at 3.0am, went back to her flat and killed herself by hanging.
Kate and her daughter Jenny, aged 18 at the time, found Izzy dead in her flat. It was a terrible shock. At first Kate felt numb and did not cry. She said that she felt as though someone had sucked out her soul. The next morning the tears came. Since then Kate has felt devastated and destroyed. She went to see her GP on a weekly basis for a while but he said that there was nothing he could do and that she has to walk through the pain. She does not want to take anti-depressants.
Christmas 2006 was a difficult time for the family but they had a small tree for Kate’s son, Hannes, who was aged seven. In January 2007 Anna, who was aged 21, decided to return to work. She said she would be away for a few days. Two days later two policeman arrived at the house and told Kate that Anna had also died by hanging. She had been found in her flat by a friend. She had left a note to say that she felt terrible because of the death of her sister, and because she had broken up with her boy friend. The final straw was that on Christmas day her computer had been stolen from her flat.
Kate was deeply shocked when she heard the news that Anna was also dead and she shook violently. She was taken to hospital and was given oxygen and valium, but soon went home. A mental health nurse from the local NHS crisis team visited her every day for six weeks, gave her medication, and put her on suicide watch in case she took her own life. Kate thinks that the crisis team is part of the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service. Kate’s GP visited the house and gave her valium and sleeping tablets. Kate was also seen by a psychiatrist. Kate told the psychiatrist that at times she wanted to die herself- not to commit suicide but just to die.
Health professionals were concerned about the safely of Kate’s young son, Hannes. He was seen by a member of Jigsaw, a counselling service for children.
Kate also goes to see a family psychotherapist once a month, but she is the only member of the family who goes. She finds this helpful. She has been for about five months. Her other daughters have also had some regular counselling.
Kate has had great support from family, friends and the church. She has also found great help and support through an American web site called Parents of Suicide [POS]. She is in regular email contact with about 80-100 other people who have lost children through suicide and she feels that this email contact helps her more than the family psychotherapy because all the other members of the group understand what she is feeling because they have had similar experiences. She says that it is good therapy to help other people by talking to others who have experienced the same and know exactly how you feel.
Now, in August 2007, Kate is still having flash-backs of the terrible time when she found Izzy and of the time the police told her about Anna. She is going to go to the post-traumatic stress clinic at the local hospital and hopes that these images will not be so strong in future.
The minister from church was very supportive but at first Kate was very angry with God and could not pray. Both girls had church funerals. Izzy’s body was brought home from the undertaker the night before her funeral, and she lay in an open coffin in the front room. Kate put her own wedding veil on Izzy’s head and made her look beautiful with make up and jewelry. Then prayers were said by the local minister and the coffin was closed. Many of her friends were there. The next day there was a horse drawn carriage to take Izzy to her funeral.
When Anna died her body was also brought home. Both the Lutheran pastor and the catholic priest said prayers in the house that night. She was buried with Kate’s wedding dress. Having the girls at home before their funerals was a help and a comfort. Anna also had white horses and a carriage to take her to her funeral. Both girls have been buried in the local cemetery and Kate often sits beside their graves.
The inquest for both girls was held on the same day in May 2007. They were both given an open verdict. Kate is glad about the open verdicts because she knows that the girls did not mean to kill themselves when they died. They were both drunk at the time and had so much to look forward to in their lives. Kate believes they took their lives in a moment of madness.
Kate returned to work in June 2007 and thinks that was the right decision. However, she still feels that a black cloud hangs over the family and she is grieving for her beautiful daughters. She believes that they are always with her. At times Kate still feels that she would like to die but she is now trying to make life as normal as possible for Hannes, her seven year old son, and for Jenny and Emily.
Kate was interviewed in August 2007.