TEA, S.D. (KELO) — A new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finds suicide rates in the United States are up an alarming 24-percent, with girls just entering their teens accounting for a big part of that increase.
Raw numbers alone don’t tell the whole story about the anguish families face when a girl takes her own life. A South Dakota family hopes to shed light on the darkness of depression that led a daughter and big sister to end it all, just a little over a month ago.
17-year-old Brittany Corcoran excelled both in the classroom and on the hockey rink. A real all-American girl, according to her family.
“She did everything and wanted to be everything to everyone and really loved to just help,” Angela Drake said.
“She was like the nicest person ever and it could be like 12 o’clock at night and Brit, I’m hungry, let’s go get food and she’d be like, okay, let’s go,” Brianna “Butchie” Corcoran said.
Playing hockey provided a physical and emotional outlet for Brittany. Yet this star goalie was masking a tortuous inner struggle with depression and self doubt.
“Like she said, she said she never really thought she was getting better, she just got better at hiding, hiding it all and not making people worry about her,” Drake said.
At age 12, Brittany was cutting herself. By 14, she was diagnosed with severe depression.
“We saw psychologists, we saw therapists, we did in-patient, we did out-patient, anything that they said that the doctors would tell us she needed, I did,” Drake said.
Yet the depression only worsened. There were several suicide attempts Then on March 24th, despite the ongoing therapy and taking her meds, Brittany found her illness was too much to bear.
“I got a call that I needed to get home right away. I knew something was wrong and I sent someone to the house and they found her. And they called me to come home and I got home and I couldn’t go inside and she was already gone,” Drake said.
Brittany lost her battle with depression. Her family aches over the void of losing her. “Not seeing her, not hearing her laugh anymore, not getting to see her grow up and reach her goals and her dreams,” Drake said.
Butchie Corcoran: “It gets harder at night.”
Perry Groten: “Why then?”
Butchie: “Because that’s when me and her would do whatever we’d talk about, what happened in our day and joke about it and mess around.”
The family has since moved into a new home to put some physical distance between themselves and where Brittany died.
“I couldn’t live there anymore. I couldn’t walk by her room and not see her there,” Drake said.
Brittany kept her inner struggles to herself. Now her family is opening up about depression and suicide, hoping to remove the stigma and help others who are also hurting.
“Not talking about how she died is doing a disservice because it was a sickness that she had. It was no different than if she had cancer, or anything,” Drake said.
Drake says parents need to be strong advocates for their children who are struggling to make sure they’re getting all the help that’s available.
“Depression isn’t always that person sitting in the corner crying, it can be the person wearing the biggest smile, you just never know what battles anyone else is fighting,” Drake said.
Brittany charmed everyone with her smile. Now the passing of this girl who always put others ahead of herself, is drawing attention to the pain and anguish of depression so others may survive and thrive. Still, healing from tragedy is a work in progress for the loved ones she left behind.
“Somebody told me through all this, there will come a day when you’ll think back on her and you won’t think that she died, you’ll remember that she lived and remember her life. I’m not there yet, but I’m working and trying,” Drake said.