Unspoken: Mothers of teen suicide victims open up about crisis

Unspoken: Mothers of teen suicide victims open up about crisis

PINE BELT (WDAM) - According to Lamar County Superintendent, Tess Smith there have been nine teen suicides countywide in three years. The mothers of two of those teens are speaking out for the first time.

They are on a mission to make sure there is a purpose behind the pain of losing their kids. Chloe Fitton and Casey Risk were 18-years-old when they fell victim to suicide.

"My daughter was mentally abused by an individual for a long, long time and she thought she could handle it herself but she couldn't," Chloe Fitton's mother Julianna Fitton said.

"I know Casey didn't want to die, let's just put it that way, and I don't think anybody who takes their life wants to die," Casey Risk's mother Angie Fitton said. "I think they want the pain to stop."

Pain, Angie Risk had no idea her son felt then, and she doesn't want it to define him now. Angie described her son.

"{he was} so talented.. funny, funny, funny," Angie said.

Casey was a baseball standout at PCS with plans to play in college.

"Baseball was my son's life," Angie said.

But before his high school graduation in 2015, Angie said Casey lost his love for the game, and after graduation she remembered Casey sleeping more. It became difficult to wake him for something they looked forward to each day.

"I cooked my son breakfast every morning, every morning. It was a big deal, that was one of our things," Angie said.

A cherished ritual, Angie said her son would thank her for in little notes, telling her he loved her. But on September 14th 2015, Angie found her son in his room and his last notes.

"He talked about that he was tired of disappointing people," Angie said.

Angie said he wrote he loved his family, telling them not to blame themselves. She admitted it's hard not to feel guilt when she can now see all the warning signs: depression, defensiveness and his denial that anything was wrong. Those were red flags Chloe Fitton's mom, Julianna said, she never saw.

"My daughter had no signs. The psychologists, they had it all wrong in our case. I did not have that withdrawn child. I did not have that one that was always sitting in her room not wanting to talk to us. We had the child that loved hanging out with us," Julianna said.

Julianna said Chloe was a loving baby sister, her father's best friend, and most of all strong. All makings of a happy life, which Julianna said made what she found the morning of November 2nd 2016 unfathomable.

"I knew something was wrong because she was so stiff. I don't know in my mind maybe I thought she was going to be, I don't know, sleeping outside...something, I don't know, who knows... that's not what I expected to come across," Julianna said.

Julianna said Chloe shot herself. She found Chloe outside, next to her bedroom window. Later, Julianna said she found out her daughter was receiving tormenting messages, the sender calling Chloe "a disgusting waste of space" and even telling her to "kill yourself". Julianna said she doesn't know why or when the messages started.

"I don't know the extent of it. I don't know why the individual chose her," Julianna said.

Or, why Chloe chose not to tell her parents.

"I wished she could have reached out. I wish she would have said more so we could have intervened, but with her mentality she was so tough, but it was just too much for her," Julianna said.

It would have been too much for any teen, according to the Clinical Director of Southern Behavioral Medicine, Dr. Geralyn Datz.

"Their {teens} sense of identity is not fully formed which is why they can be hurt so easily," Datz said.

Pair that vulnerability with hormone changes and Dr. Datz said that can lead a teen to depression, even issues with problem solving.

"It's not necessarily the person's fault, it's that they couldn't think of any other way to solve the problem other than just not to be here," Datz said.

Datz said the warning signs aren't always obvious. They can be changes parents have to dig deeper to find.

"Changes to eating, sleeping, social withdrawal, changes in grades, different types of moodiness," Datz said.

Her warning to parents is: once a child has an electric device they are plugged in to the world, an access that needs to be watched.

"It's perfectly appropriate to monitor your child's tweets, or facebook account or instagram messages weekly," Datz said.

Angie said knowing what she knows now about her son, about suicide, she would go back and cross that line of privacy.

Sometimes you got to do things that the child may not understand then.

Julianna said she would have went through Chloe's phone, and she would have looked to her friends.

"I would have probably have had more of her friends come over and hung out with her friends more, maybe then somebody would have been like 'Hey, did you tell your mom about that message?' and I would have been like, 'What message?'," Julianna said.

These mothers know they have to leave the should haves behind and make sure no other parent has to ask 'what if', and no child chooses the wrong way out.

"There is always, always hope, always hope, um, if you can't find a way to believe that find somebody who can," Angie said.

"Reach out and talk to somebody, because your life is too beautiful," Julianna said.

WDAM 7 reported last year that a 14-year-old was arrested and charged with one count of felony cyber-staking in Chloe's death. Because of youth court laws News 7 is not allowed to know anything else about the case.

If you are a parent of a teen, or if you are a teen, and you need to talk to someone follow this link on wdam.com. The entire page has numbers, websites and resources where you can learn more about teen suicide warning signs and more importantly get help. Angie Risk is providing herself as a resource for schools, parents and teens. You can reach her through facebook at Angie Goodwin Risk.