By Chris Coulter, Maddie's Dad.
This week marks a half year since our family's life was changed forever. The last six months has gone by so quickly but the scars will linger on forever.
We are always facing the question about 'why did Madeline have to die and could it have been prevented?' I've heard numerous comments about how the public health system failed us but it's not necessarily my entire belief.
Maddie was loved by all around her and whether she fully understood how much she was loved, we will never truly know the answer. She showed and gave love beyond comprehension.
Maddie was in pain, tremendous pain that few can imagine and hopefully even fewer will understand in his/her lifetime. We believe she wanted to get better but the pain was so deep and uncontrollable at times.
I recall when Maddie was out on a day pass from the hospital. She loved her lattes from the in-hospital Starbucks but she especially looked forward to her day-passes to go home. One afternoon on a day-pass she was at my house. It was just the two of us. Conversation was light; she was kicking my butt in Anomia, a game which she played with such vigor and enthusiasm. It was a game that she seldom lost at playing.
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That day was no exception and proceeded to annihilate me in quick fashion. Then something happened. Like a storm coming in off the ocean, a darkness came over her. She said, "Daddy, you need to take me back to the hospital." I don't know what she was suddenly overcome by but she realized she was in danger. In that moment, she felt a threat, a threat from within herself.
Many say that suicide is a coward's way out but in fact I believe just the opposite. Maddie was trying to protect us throughout this terrible ordeal.
I don't begin to understand how she felt that day or on several occasions leading up to that fateful evening on April 10th but the pain she felt was real. Maddie was trying to protect the ones she loved the most at the sacrifice of herself.
Many say that suicide is a coward's way out but in fact I believe just the opposite. Maddie was trying to protect us throughout this terrible ordeal. She believed she was putting us through so much with her sickness and wanted us to stop having to endure through her private hell.
In the end, we believe she was trying to end our misery and not her own. She was doing this as an act of love for us and not an escape for herself. Maddie's last act was one of selflessness and not of selfishness. That is my belief substantiated by the tears that have flowed endlessly since that fateful night.
We are not even close to understanding how these angels feel or the pain that they must be enduring. We must start to hold these delicate youths with greater compassion and not with misunderstanding and trepidation.
We are not even close to understanding how these angels feel or the pain that they must be enduring.
As many of us look to Thanksgiving as a long weekend in October, I will look at it very differently this year. I'm incredibly grateful for my boys and their love, and to my family and friends who have helped to make the last six months tolerable. I will always cherish our beautiful Maddie who showed us so much love until her last breath.
Let's talk openly and without prejudice about mental illness. Let's try to ensure that these angels are not suffering alone.
This post originally appeared here.
Frame Of Mind is a new series inspired by The Maddie Project that focuses on teens and mental health. The series will aim to raise awareness and spark a conversation by speaking directly to teens who are going through a tough time, as well as their families, teachers and community leaders. We want to ensure that teens who are struggling with mental illness get the help, support and compassion they need. If you would like to contribute a blog to this series, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Maddie Project is a community effort in support of youth struggling with depression and other mental health related concerns. Driven by community collaboration and events, the project's goals are to raise awareness by sparking conversations about youth depression and mental health concerns as well as to help provide uninhibited access to support for youth and their families.
The Maddie Project was founded in April 2015 in memory of Madeline Grace German Coulter. To date the project has engaged 100s of thousands in active conversations around youth mental health and has raised over $1 million dollars in partnership with North York General Hospital Foundation towards the development of Maddie's Healing Garden and support of other child and adolescent mental health services at North York General Hospital.
One in five Canadians will experience mental illness in their lifetime Source: Canadian Mental Health Association
Nearly half of those who feel they have suffered from depression or anxiety have never gone to see a doctor about this problem. Source: CMHA
Latest studies showed more than 1.3 million young Canadians have a mood disorder or addiction. Two-thirds had symptoms before the age of 15. Source: Statistics Canada, Government of Canada
Suicide is among the leading causes of death in 15- to 24-year-old Canadians, second only to accidents. In 2012, 261 Canadian kids and teens took their own lives. Source: CMHA, Statistics Canada
LGBTQ youth face about 14 times the risk of suicide and substance abuse than their heterosexual peers Source: CMHA Ontario
First Nations youth are at a higher risk. The suicide rate among First Nations youth is roughly five to seven times higher than that of the general population. Source: Parliament of Canada study, 2014
People with mental illness and addictions are more likely to die prematurely than those without. Mental illness can cut 10 to 20 years from a person’s life expectancy. Source: Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
Contending with her bipolar disorder brought Yashi Brown to poetry, and with it, she's trying to end the stigma of mental illness.
If you need help, visit ementalhealth.ca to search for services in your area. Or call the Kids' Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868, it's Canada's only free phone counselling service for youth under 20.
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