Mother posts video about teen suicide pact in Okeechobee

OKEECHOBEE — An Okeechobee mother posted a tearful video online Wednesday, warning others about a teen suicide pact, and asking all teenagers to report it if one of their friends talks about taking their own life.

The parents were alerted to their daughter’s suicide attempt when an Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO) deputy came to their house Sunday morning. OCSO had reportedly received a call from another teen.

In the video, the mother tells the story about a heart-breaking Mother’s Day:

“This weekend my husband and I were put into a situation that no parent should ever have to go through,” she explains in the video.

“Sunday morning, Mother’s Day morning, started out just like any other morning.

“Shortly after 10 a.m., we see a cop pull up at our house.

“I go out there because my two big dogs are running out to my fence and he’s not scared. He’s coming through my fence. Something is wrong.

“I get there and I ask what’s wrong.”

The deputy asked some questions to confirm this was the family he was looking for, she continues.

“He says you need to check on your daughter (name).

“My husband and I run into the house, and we’re knocking on the bathroom door. We are asking our daughter, ‘(name), what’s wrong.’

“Nothing mom, I’m fine. I’m using the bathroom.

“(Name) what’s wrong? The cops are here, something is wrong.

“So her dad is beating on the door.

“She opens the door and the bathroom looked like a crime scene.

“Our daughter tried to take her life, cuts on both wrists and it’s horrible, horrible.

“There were no signs. There were no symptoms. There was nothing.

“There was a pact with our child and four other children to kill themselves. We did not know anything. We saw nothing.

“We’re broken.

“I’m mad. I never thought suicide would come to my own house.

“It almost did.

“No parent should have to see their child like that. And it wasn’t superficial. It wasn’t a cry for help. She was trying.

“She’s a great kid. She’s a beautiful kid.

“She’s great in school. She’s got such a wonderful future.

“It blindsided us.

“This morning on ‘Today,’ they just happened to be talking about teen suicide and how the suicide rate is up, and they tell you the three signs to look for. There are no three signs to look for.

“Fifteen minutes before this cop was out at our house, me and my husband had just been talking to our daughter, laughing with her, talking to her. She had two friends stay over the night before. She went into the bathroom and did not come out.

“People, talk to your kids. Tell them they have to speak out.

“Five kids had a pact to do this.

“If a kid hears another kid say, they are going to kill themselves, they have to speak up. They have to tell somebody so something can be done.

“She filmed it on social media.

“She wanted this boy to see what she was doing.

“He called (911) after she did it.

“We almost found our daughter dead.

“Her arms are laid open so bad, we saw tendons and everything.

“It took 12 stitches on the inside of each arm, 18 staples on the outside of one and 12 staples on the other.

“I keep going through my phases of sad, depressed, scared, but I’m mad too.

“I am full of rage. Something could have been done. Somebody could have helped. Somebody could have said something.

“I didn’t say I had a bad Mother’s Day because I didn’t get something. I had a Mother’s Day that will never get out of my mind.

“It broke her father.

“These kids don’t think about the aftermath of what they will leave behind.

“Our baby just turned 15 two months ago.

“There are no signs.

“We had none.

“The only sign we could have had was one of these other kids standing up and saying something.

“All kids talk about running away, that’s one thing. But when they talk about killing themselves, that’s another.

“Stand up. Say something.

“We are living a nightmare.

“She was just laughing and smiling at us 10 minutes before this.

“My other daughter asked me this morning, ‘mom what do I say to my best friend?’

“I told her you have to tell people to speak out.

“Save a life. Stop someone else from trying to commit suicide. Save someone else.

“Speak up. You have to speak up.

“Our daughter is going to have to live with what’s happened. She’s going to learn from it. She’s going to get stronger.

“Hopefully her story will save some lives.”

In a phone interview on Thursday, the mother said after her wounds were treated, her daughter was transferred to a medical facility that has specialists who treat juveniles with mental health issues.

“Physically, she is doing well,” she said. “Mentally, it will be a long road.”

Sheriff Noel Stephen said OCSO notified the parents of all the teens reportedly involved in the suicide pact. He said they got to the other parents in time, before any of the other teens attempted to harm themselves.

“It’s scary,” said the sheriff. “There are God-awful things going through these kids’ minds.”

He said it was fortunate that someone who saw the girl harm herself via the social media video called immediately. Too often, he said, emergency officials aren’t notified. He said tagging OCSO on a social media post does not ensure quick response. If you think someone is in danger, you should call 911, he stressed.

“When you see something, say something,” said the sheriff. “You can’t just tag somebody.

“I try to stay active on social media,” Sheriff Stephen continued. “But I can’t be on there all the time.”

He said a deputy was sent to the girl’s home because many people no longer have land lines at home and cell phone numbers are not listed. In addition, he said, “we wanted to make sure we had the right home.”

The sheriff said he prides himself on keeping OCSO involved in the schools and the community and accessible to community members. He said he wants all community members to be comfortable calling OCSO for help.

“If they share information with us, maybe we can save a life,” he said.

Okeechobee County Superintendent of Schools Ken Kenworthy said the school district continues to take any potential threat to self or others very seriously.

“In cooperation with law enforcement, our crisis counselors have been communicating with students and their families to conduct threat assessments and ensure that any student that needs help is referred for assistance,” said Mr. Kenworthy. “If any person knows or hears of a student exhibiting the signs of suicide, they should report their concern to any adult on any school campus or contact law enforcement.

“Signs of potential suicide include talking about wanting to die or kill oneself, excessive sadness or moodiness, hopelessness, sleep problems, giving away possessions or speaking as if you may never see them again. For immediate concerns, call 911. For additional help and resources call 211. The school district also employs a social worker that may be reached at 863-462-5000 ext. 298 to assist with referrals for mental health counseling.

“Referrals may be made by counselors at each school campus as well. Every person needs help every now and then. Let’s make sure no one goes unnoticed.”

 

Publisher/Editor Katrina Elsken can be reached at kelsken@newszap.com

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