A mother-of-two with postnatal depression took her own life weeks after the birth of her son, her family has revealed.
Shaciara McDowell, 18, of Ballymena, in Co Antrim, died on September 7, just four weeks after the birth of her son Cáhir.
Her sister Vanessa McDowell, 27, shared the news of her death as she urged mothers suffering with mental health issues to speak out and not feel ‘ashamed’.
Shaciara McDowell, 18, of Ballymena, in Co Antrim, died on September 7, just four weeks after the birth of her son Cáhir. Pictured, in hospital with Cáhir and partner Corey-Lee
Shaciara had struggled with postnatal depression shortly after the birth of her daughter Éire, now one, Vanessa explained, but was not offered sufficient support.
‘Her [Shaciara’s] post-natal depression kind of kicked in around three weeks, so it was quite quick,’ Vanessa said in an interview with Belfast Live.
‘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 round.’
In May Shaciara shared a post asking for donations National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to be made to in honour of her birthday.
She wrote: ‘For my birthday this year, I’m asking for donations to National Suicide Prevention Lifeline ‘1-800-273-TALK (8255)’.
‘I’ve chosen this charity because their mission means a lot to me, and I hope that you’ll consider contributing as a way of celebrating with me. Every little bit will help me reach my goal.’
Shaciara struggled with postnatal depression after the birth of her daughter Éire, now one. Pictured, Shaciara with Cáhir (left). Right, Cáhir in a t-shirt printed with his mum’s face
Vanessa, 27, the eldest of nine siblings, said Shaciara did not like to ‘burden’ others with her problems and did not confide in her family about the extent of her struggles.
Vanessa continued: ‘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.’
Vanessa called on women to speak out about their mental health issues and to seek help when neeeded.
She added: ‘Don’t buy into the stigma of medication makes you weak, if you have cancer you would treat yourself for that cancer, the brain is just as important, look after your brain.’
Her sister Vanessa McDowell, 27, shared the news of her death as she urged mothers suffering with mental health issues to speak out and not feel ‘ashamed’. Pictured, the sisters together
A photo taken in the hours after Cáhir’s birth shows Shaciara with her partner Corey-Lee and their newborn son in hospital.
Other photos show her cradling one-year-old Éire, who was affectionately called ‘princess’ by her grandmother.
Vanessa described her sister as ‘sassy’ and ‘an absolutely brilliant mummy’ with so much to give her children.
The family has set up a GoFundMe page in a bid to help support Shaciara’s son and daughter.
The description reads: ‘Shaciara suffered from severe post natal depression and didn’t get the help from the system that she needed along with so many other young girls and women.
‘Shaciara McDowell the daughter of Muriel McDowell and Sister to seven siblings leaves behind 2 beautiful children Éire and Cáhir.
‘This is to help the family with the unexpected costs and to support them through this devastating tragedy. Any support would be greatly appreciated.’
- For confidential support call the Samaritans on 116123 or visit a local Samaritans branch, or click here for details