On the evening of July 4th, just two hours after wishing us goodnight, Charley was
found unresponsive in her bedroom.
Charley was bright, funny, thoughtful, and driven. She was a girl who had goals, hobbies, and aspired to do great things. She was plagued by pain and injustice in our world and fought unapologetically to amplify others. She lived her own life with chronic illnesses, and weathered that pain gracefully until she couldn't any longer. She put others ahead of herself even when her own suffering was too much to bare.
Her pain was trivialized by the people who were supposed to help her. The medical professionals who recommended she sleep more; the hospital staff who delegitimized her suicidal ideation; the police officers who saw an articulate young girl and said, "you look responsible, you're not going to kill yourself."
Even though they had been called in by a licensed psychologist, even though she had written a suicide note, even though she had a stockpile of medications. Those two police officers made the decision that cost Charley her life; they left her here to die.
The pain of losing her is insurmountable. We have lost two loves of our lives in under three months and there is no consolation for that. As a mother, I am left with the grief of losing my husband and daughter. Our kids are left grieving their daddy and sister.
It’s hard to think about money, but in the midst of our circumstances, it’s impossible not to. The costs of burying our family has exceeded $20,000, and their medical costs cumulating to over $1,000,000.
We ask for help first first to manage their funeral expenses, but then also we'd like to start a foundation in Charley's name.
In addition to preventing suicide among chronically ill youth, we want to enact change within our police system. Police officers should never have had the authority to evaluate her mental health when they were called in by a mental health professional. Charley's bed was ready and waiting for her at Rio Vista Behavioural Health, but she never made it to admission. Never again should a child die because of the nonchalance of police officers.
We would like to share a poem that Charley wrote:
"The Look of Sick"
I was told by someone, “you don’t look sick”
As if the look of sick is something you pick
All I can think is “why don’t I look sick”
What does sick look like to you?
Does sick look like that man glued to a chair?
Does sick look like little bald children saying life isn’t fair?
Does sick come down to what you can see?
What does it take to make sick look like me?
I play this phrase over again and again.
What if sick wasn’t confined to the eyes?
What if sick wasn’t just a disguise?
Is everyone now really that shallow?
What if sick wasn’t ever my shadow?
Does it really take eyes for sick to be?
What will it take to make sick look like me?
Flash forward two years and my eyes filled with tears.
A glance at the mirror is facing my fears.
Two tubes in a nose is all that is there.
Now the only words said are filled with such care.
My life is now tethered to a machine
Why did it take this for my sick to be seen?