One year ago, 18-year-old Shaciara McDowell became a mom after she gave birth to a baby girl named Éire. Not long after welcoming her daughter into the world, McDowell gave birth again, this time to a baby boy she named Cáhir.
However, after giving birth to her son, the young mom of two began experiencing signs of postpartum depression. Sadly, just four months after welcoming her baby boy into the world, McDowell took her own life on September 7.
Family of Teen Mom Who Took Her Own Life After Struggling with Postpartum Depression Speaks Out
Now, her 27-year-old sister Vanessa McDowell is urging mothers who are suffering from mental health issues to speak out and not feel “ashamed,” the Daily Mail reports. According to Vanessa, her younger sister often kept her feeling to herself, so while they knew she was struggling with PPD, they weren’t fully aware of the extent of what she was dealing with.
In an interview with Belfast Live, Vanessa admitted that Shaciara had also struggled with postpartum depression after Éire’s birth as well. “Her post-natal depression kind of kicked in around three weeks, so it was quite quick. She also suffered with post-natal depression with her first child and it too set in quick, and I think that is what’s most upsetting, the system knew she suffered the first time and they should have just been there a lot more of her second time [around].”
As Vanessa continued, she said Shaciara never liked to burden others with her own problems, so “even if she did bring it up she would be like, ‘it’s alright though, I’m fine.’ She didn’t want to talk about it but that’s just the place she was in, in her head.”
Now she wants other women to learn from her sister’s story and to forget about the stigmas that surround postpartum depression. “Don’t buy into the stigma of medication makes you weak,” Vanessa told Belfast Live. “If you have cancer you would treat yourself for that cancer, the brain is just as important, look after your brain.”
According to researchers, “approximately 70% to 80% of women will experience, at a minimum, the ‘baby blues’. Many of these women will experience the more severe condition of postpartum depression or a related condition.”
In a statement made by Shacaria’s mom, the grandmother stated bluntly, “I think the whole system fails women in that situation. It failed my daughter,” Patricia Devlin reported on Twitter.
Vanessa described Shacaria as “sassy,” but also “‘an absolutely brilliant mummy’ with so much to give her children.” A GoFundMe account has since been set up to “help the family with the unexpected costs and to support them through this devastating tragedy.”
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