With the night’s events still fresh in her mind, Shelly Seago, 45, doesn’t want her daughter’s death to go unnoticed.
“It’s hard, but I think the more people who know, the better it is,” the Indian Hills resident said. “Her life meant a lot to me, but I want her death to mean something, too. I don’t want it to be for nothing.”
Shanna Seago, 19, committed suicide Feb. 23 in her Oregon bedroom, where she lived with her mother and grandmother.
Shelly, diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease and liver failure, had been at the emergency room most of that day. When she arrived home, Shanna was sitting on the floor painting.
She remembers Shanna acting a little strange, but didn’t think much of it.
“She went to bed, and I told her I loved her,” Shelly said. “That was the last thing I said to her.”
A little while later, Shelly heard a loud noise, but thought it was from the rainstorm outside. Second’s later, Shelly’s mother was upstairs yelling, “Where’s Shanna? I can’t get into her room.”
Shelly and her mother forced their way into Shanna’s bedroom and found her slumped over her computer.
“You could smell it. She had shot herself,” Shelly said with tears in her eyes. “It was awful. I didn’t think it was real. When I saw her I thought it was a joke until I saw the gun in her hand. I never dreamed in a million years she would do that.”
A week later the family held a memorial service, and Shelly and her mother moved to Indian Hills to be close to family.
Shelly said this wasn’t the first time Shanna had hurt herself.
“Five years ago, she attempted suicide. She had a lot of depression, and was bipolar,” she said. “She was a cutter. A couple weeks before (her death) she had new cuts on her hand.”
Shanna wouldn’t take any medication, and refused to stay in counseling.
Her daughter’s death has left Shelly with many unanswered questions.
”I have a very strong faith in God, and I felt like he was saying, ‘She’s OK. She’s with me now.’ I have to believe there is something after here, and we will be together again,” Shelly said. “I miss her so much. She was so special. She was sweet, pretty, kind. She would help me with things. Because she was an only child we were so close.”
Shelly hopes her story can help other parents avoid the pain she has endured.
“I keep telling everyone hug your kids and ask them if they are OK. Even if they say they are, and you think they’re not, get them help,” she said. “When they’re young they don’t realize how permanent it (death) is. They haven’t been on this earth long enough to learn that things do get better.”
Shelly is walking in this year’s Suicide Prevention Network of Douglas County’s community walk Sept. 14 in memory of Shanna.
“It’s a wonderful thing to memorialize those we lost, and hope nobody else has to go through this because it’s the worst thing in the world,” Shelly said. “Since she died, every time I go somewhere, I feel like I’m forgetting something. I have to go and check and make sure that I have everything. But I have realized that I haven’t forgotten anything. It’s Shanna not being with me. She was always with me. I have this big empty spot inside me and it never will go away.”
With eight recorded Douglas County suicides since September of last year, Suicide Prevention Network Executive Director Debbie Posnien stressed the importance of prevention.
“We encourage people to join us because we believe it’s our job in life to help people realize how important we all really are,” she said. “It’s our job to encourage each other to realize that they matter.”
Walk in Memory, Walk for Hope starts at the Carson Valley Museum & Cultural Center, walks north on Highway 395 to the former Chevrolet dealer, and back.
Registration begins at 8 a.m., with opening ceremonies at 9 a.m.
The theme this year “Come Walk With Me,” will remember those lost to suicide and reach out to those who are struggling.
Posnien also wanted to acknowledge the military, and has asked a Marine to speak about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
“We really need to let them know we support them and are working toward better mental health for the people who have worked so hard for our country,” Posnien said.
The Knights of Columbus are serving breakfast 8 to 9 a.m. prior to the walk costing $6 for adults, and $3 for children.
“This is for anybody in the community, even if they don’t walk,” Posnien said. “Just to come to the breakfast really helps the Suicide Prevention Network.”
The community is also invited to dedicate a sign in honor of a loved one that will be placed on the museum lawn prior to the walk and for three days following.
To order a sign, for a $10 donation, call Posnien, at 783-1510.
The walk costs $20 per person, however, Posnien said people can sponsor someone else to walk in their name.