Local doctor raises awareness about depression, suicide after son's death

A local mother is speaking out with a message she wants to share with other parents.

Conall O'Shea had a group of friends, a job he loved and a 4.0 grade point average. His mother can remember when he was 11, he used to decorate cakes and sell them. He built his own fire pit and saved up enough money to buy his own car.

"As he got older, in high school, it was clear to us that he was not happy all the time. But most teenagers aren't happy all the time," Dr. Molly O'Shea said.

When his parents realized it was something more than typical teenage behavior they took him to the doctors and the doctors treated him for depression.

"We had helped him find someone to talk to. We had helped him find someone to get medication help from. But even with that help, and even with all that support, we weren't able to see ourselves and to the depths of how dark it was inside him," Molly O'Shea said.

"It's hard because I think I was caught off guard when my son killed himself. It was shocking to all of us," she said.

She remembers every detail of the day she got that call from her son's father.

"'Come over here right now.' And I said, 'Is it Conall' and he said 'Yes.' And I said, 'Did he kill himself?' and he said, 'Yes.' I said, 'Is he dead, are you sure?' and he said, 'Yes.' I said, 'Call 911,' he goes, 'It's too late.'"

"I just remember pulling up and the fire engines were there, the police officers were there and I ran in the house," she said.

Conall was just 17 when he died by suicide.

"Of course, I will spend the rest of my life (feeling guilty), I'm a mother. There's not a day that goes by that I don't think if I had done this this way or this differently or -- would it have affected that, I will go to my grave with that."

"You can't avoid it. Every parent makes a million mistakes. I'm burned with the fact that my child killed himself and I have to go back and consider each of those mistakes that I've made and wonder, is that the one and I'll never know. I'll never know."

She has a message for other parents.

"By talking about depression, or a stigma about hopelessness, or suicide. You will not plant a seed in someone's mind that will make them think about doing that. You will open a door for them to talk to you about their own thoughts and that can be lifesaving, not ending a life."

"I think the people who have helped me most have helped me view suicide and depression as an illness like cancer. Because no mother can prevent cancer any more than a mother can prevent depression or suicide."

"As a parent I encourage you to live your life with love and you won't live your life with regret. Doesn't mean I won't rethink every decision I had made, 'cause I will, but it doesn't mean I will regret the life that I had with him. Because I can honestly say that I look back at a lot of the life I had with him and I know every decision I made along the way was made with that lens of love."

Suicide prevention support and mental health resources are available.

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