‘Can you keep an eye on David tonight?’ Her baby was taken by me. I didn’t get the call from the Sheriff’s Department that night.’ Mom loses her daughter to suicide, leaving a newborn son behind, and now lives her life “to make her proud.”

“Brenna, my daughter, was born in March of 1989. She was a wonderful baby who was born shortly after 2.5-hour labor. And, with time, she developed into a lively little girl who enjoyed interacting with others and creating noise.

Courtesy of Debbie Chastain

Brenna adored preschool and was eager to begin kindergarten. She was eager to board the bus to pick up her older sister and transport her to school. She succeeded well in school, gained a lot of friends, and was a very outgoing person. Everything was fine until the fifth grade when some changes occurred. She appeared depressed, was quiet, and did not appear to be in a good mood. At the time, I assumed it was because her old group of friends had disbanded. She usually appeared to be in a better mood once school was out for the summer.

Courtesy of Debbie Chastain

Middle school arrived, and those years may be extremely difficult for many children, particularly females. Brenna was teased and mocked because she was tiny and had crooked teeth. She wasn’t physically ready for braces at the time, but once she was, her teeth began to move on the first day! One of my best memories of her is having multiple baby teeth out before getting braces. She couldn’t sleep because she had them all pulled on the same day. As a result, we drew out the sofa sleeper and sat down to watch Game Show Network. We talked about how much we cherished spending that time together even after she was an adult.

Courtesy of Debbie Chastain

Brenna’s eighth-grade year was a watershed moment in her life. According to the doctor, she appeared to be battling once more, and then she became ill with a nasty stomach bug. This occurred the week before she was scheduled to travel to Florida with her dance team for a competition. Even though she was weak and didn’t want to get out of bed, we went to the competition. She competed, and as soon as we came home, I contacted the doctor to schedule a follow-up appointment. He spoke with her and apologized for not reacting sooner because he suspected she was depressed.

Brenna took medication and started seeing a counselor, and things improved until she reached high school. She was having academic difficulties, was falling behind on her work, and had failed a few classes. She took a huge quantity of tablets in 11th grade and left a message for us. Brenna was transported to the ER and then moved to one of the children’s intensive care units. She stayed there for a week before being transferred to a mental care center for another week. When she was released, she was still behind in school, so her school counselor advised her to enroll in the voluntary county school. This was ideal for her because she could work at her own pace and independently. She completed her studies and received her diploma on time!

Courtesy of Debbie Chastain

Brenna attended college, worked, and was still suffering from Major Depressive Disorder, terrible PMS, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. She decided to go to Florida to start over. She stayed there for almost three years before returning home. She immediately obtained a job and met a guy named David. They began dating, and in the spring of 2016, she returned home, sat down, and informed her younger sister Shelby and me that she was expecting! We were astounded, as did she because her doctor had advised that her chances of becoming pregnant were extremely poor due to a PCOS diagnosis. I was overjoyed at the prospect of being a grandmother!

Courtesy of Debbie Chastain

She stopped taking all of her medications as soon as she found out she was pregnant since she didn’t want to hurt the baby in any way. Her OB suggested a prenatal supplement that was safe for the baby and effective in helping her. She had been on a special formula for several months. She went back on medicine to cope with the depression after entering the third trimester. The kid was born about five weeks early, but they were healthy, and there were no difficulties.

Courtesy of Debbie Chastain

Brenna was a wonderful mother who took excellent care of her baby David, whom she affectionately referred to as Diddle. Especially when David was at work, she suffered from tiredness and thoughts of inadequacy. Despite receiving assistance, I could tell she was in a lot of pain and growing worse. In June 2017, I attended a work conference and returned home on Wednesday. We watched Diddle on Thursday the 8th, and she asked us to keep him overnight, which we did.

Courtesy of Debbie Chastain
Courtesy of Debbie Chastain

I went to bed and neglected to turn off my phone that night, so I didn’t hear it ring. The sheriff’s department had called. I didn’t get the call. Shelby was summoned, and she awoke me with the three words that would affect my life forever: ‘Brenna committed suicide.’ On June 9, 2017, she died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Courtesy of Debbie Chastain

She was able to help others even after she died, which was one of her favorite things to do. Heart valves, bone, skin, tissue, and corneas were among the organs she donated. As I was still numb and in shock, I found it comforting to know she could aid others in their time of need.

The last two years have been challenging at best. I prayed for her healing for many years. She has recovered, but not in the way I had hoped or anticipated. I find solace in the fact that she is in Heaven with Jesus, whom she adored. Every day, I miss her, and it makes me sad that Diddle won’t remember her, but we make sure he understands who she is and how much she loves him.

Courtesy of Debbie Chastain
Courtesy of Debbie Chastain

It is difficult to travel down the path of mourning. I have a lot of support from my family, friends, and religion. I see a therapist and go to a support group regularly. ‘Mental health care in this nation is broken,’ one of the doctors I saw informed me. The number of people who die by suicide is alarming, and something needs to be done about it.’ Andrew Slaby, MD, said it succinctly. ‘Few realize that suicide is rarely self-initiated, but rather the result of a physiological impact that distorts perception.’ People who commit suicide don’t want to die; they just want to be free of their suffering.’

Depression is a disease that does not go away on its own. There is a chemical ance in the brain that needs to be addressed. Finding effective medication can be challenging, and it takes time to work. Mental health is frequently misunderstood, and hearing someone with mental health concerns characterized as crazy, insane, or psycho makes me squirm.

Out of the Darkness, Walks are sponsored by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and my family participates and walks for Team Brenna. Their target is to cut the number of suicides by 20%.

I miss my little Brenna and am confident that I shall see her again. She was my goofy little sister who adored Jesus, her family, Chick-fil-A, and Dr. Pepper Icees. I think she’d be amused to learn that Diddle likes these icees as well.

Brenna, I adore you and strive to live my life in a way that would make you proud.

Every day, I think of you.”

Courtesy of Debbie Chastain

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