In 2005 Linda’s 13 year old daughter took her own life. Linda and her family were shocked. Linda still feels devastated, but more in control, and is back at work. She has found help through a psychologist and has attended a SOBS conference.
Linda and her husband had no idea that their 13 year old daughter, Chloe, was unhappy. Chloe stayed at home one day because she had been feeling ill. The next day Linda suggested that Chloe should have another day resting at home because she was tired. Chloe asked Linda and her husband not to phone her during the day because she did not want to be disturbed. At about 11.00am Linda did phone and was worried when she did not get an answer. At 3.00pm Linda rushed home and found Chloe. Linda rang for the emergency services and tried to resuscitate her daughter but was not successful.
Linda’s other daughter was 10 years old at the time. She came home and saw Chloe lying on the floor and thought that she was ill. She went next door to be with one of the neighbours.
The police told Linda’s husband what had happened over the telephone, and he drove home, but Chloe’s body had already been taken to the hospital when he arrived.
Linda and her husband were completely shocked and devastated by what had happened. Linda felt confused and bewildered and wondered if she had done something that had led to the terrible event. She felt that she must be guilty in some way for what had happened. She wanted to know why Chloe had taken her own life in this shocking manner. Linda couldn’t think of any reason for Chloe’s death and eventually decided that Chloe must have been feeling depressed.
At first Linda and her husband found it hard to eat or sleep. Linda rang her GP one Sunday, who told them to go to the hospital, where they spoke to someone from the crisis team, who was really helpful. A member of the crisis team gave them some tablets to help them to sleep and also some useful advice about how to get though each day and the importance of making meals even if they did not feel like eating them. They both took some time off work.
At first Chloe’s sister did not realise that Chloe had taken her own life. She thought that her sister had died due to an illness. However, she soon found out exactly what had happened via someone else, and she felt angry that she had not been told what had happened by her parents. Linda promised that in future she would tell her daughter anything she wanted to know about Chloe’s death.
Chloe’s sister asked for some counselling and was referred to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). The service provided counselling which was available for 8 weeks and was very helpful. Chloe’s sister used this counselling service soon after Chloe died, and then again in subsequent years. Linda sometimes went with her daughter to talk to the counsellor.
Linda wanted some counselling herself. She felt she wanted to talk to someone else about what had happened so she contacted Cruse. The woman who she met from Cruse was much older than Linda and so Linda found it hard to talk to her. Linda found a local support group, called Solice, but the members all seemed older than her so she decided not to join that group. She also contacted Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide (SOBS), but she found that the nearest group was some distance away, so she did not attend a meeting. However, Linda did attend a national conference run by SOBS, which she found very helpful.
Linda points out that Chloe’s death has affected the wider family, including Chloe’s grand-parents. She also says that everyone grieves differently and that her husband did not want to have counselling, even though it was provided.
About 18 months after Chloe’s death Linda felt desperate for help. She went to her GP who referred her to Mental Health Services, who managed to get her an appointment with a psychologist. Since then she has been seeing the psychologist regularly, who has helped her to relax, to express her feelings and to come to terms with what has happened. The psychologist also encouraged Linda to take care of herself, as well as worrying about other people. Recently Linda started a new job. She does not tell people at work how Chloe died because she still gets upset by other people’s reaction to the news that her daughter died by suicide.
After an autopsy Chloe’s body was taken to the chapel of rest at the funeral directors. Linda and her husband went to see her there. They went a few times. At first Linda felt distressed because Chloe did not look as she had done when she was alive, but Linda thinks it was the right thing to visit her there. Linda said that she wanted to make sure that Chloe was OK.
The family planned the funeral. The school helped by bringing Chloe’s art work to the church. Linda wanted the service to be a celebration of Chloe’s life and she was glad the funeral went well. After the funeral Linda and her husband went to the crematorium where they were able to say goodbye to their daughter privately. Linda, her husband and their other daughter were together when Chloe’s ashes were interred. They also made a joint decision about the type of grave stone they wanted.
The inquest was some time after the funeral. Linda decided not to attend. Her husband told her what happened. The coroner concluded that Chloe had taken her own life and had intended to do it. After the inquest some journalists wrote some inaccurate and insensitive articles about what had happened.
Linda has found it very hard coping with the intense grief she has felt since Chloe died. She feels more in control than she did initially and thinks that it is important that she and other members of the family look at life in a positive manner because she does not believe that Chloe would have wanted them to give up on everything. She feels that coping with grief has drawn her closer to her husband than she was previously. Linda is convinced that she will see Chloe again one day. Certain times of year, such as Christmas are particularly difficult times to be without her. After Chloe died the family moved house, but they kept all Chloe’s things.
Linda was interviewed in December 2007.