Parents reach out after daughter takes her own life

A Charlottetown couple is raising money for Kids Help Phone two years after their own daughter committed suicide.
Darin and Kathleen Meek have always supported Kids Help Phone, but the program took on a special meaning after their daughter committed suicide. (CBC)

A Charlottetown couple is raising money for Kids Help Phone two years after their daughter took her own life.

Chalyce Meek was 17. She had suffered from depression for years.

"We were always quite open about getting her help. She wanted help, and she was reaching out too," her father, Darin Meek, told CBC News.

"That's a big part why we're firm believers in this, and we've talked about this many times, we don't want any other parent to have to endure what we went through."

Darin and Kathleen Meek say their daughter excelled at everything she touched: music, sports, school, work. But in grade six she began having anxiety, and that turned into depression.

The Meeks got medical and psychological help for Chalyce, but by grade 12 she was in a downward spiral. Her parents had no warning of her suicide. She had just started a new medication, and they believe there may be a connection.

"We used to talk to Chalyce and asked her to tell us how she was feeling," said Darin.

"She died on a Friday, and Monday was supposed to be her one-month followup, her new medication. So if I was to do anything different, what I would say is I wouldn't leave it a month. Go weekly, a month's too long."

Caring for others

Kathleen said her daughter bore a great burden.

Chalyce Meek used Kids Help Phone, and encouraged her friends to use it too. (Family photo)

"Her little shoulders, she wanted to carry the world and help as much as she could," said Kathleen.

"And she couldn't, of course, nobody can fix somebody else. You just give them tools."

In the hopes of providing more of those tools for young people, the Meeks are raising money and awareness for the Kids Help Phone, to help young people through their darkest moments.

As employees of Bell Aliant, the Meeks had always been involved in fundraising for Kids Help Phone. The last two years their team in the Walk so Kids Can Talk - Smiles for Chalyce - raised $27,000.

The national Kids Help Phone has 75 counsellors according to their webpage. Every year they receive almost a quarter million contacts either as phone calls or online.

The Meeks say Chalyce's sister Taylor is also active in reaching out. They say she was instrumental in starting a group at her high school, Colonel Gray, focused on stopping the stigma around mental health issues. 

"With Chalyce, throughout her life, and her struggle she went through, first with having anxiety and then maturing into depression, she would reach out and look for counselling and other help, so it became a service we saw as a great need for young people," said Darin.

"Our world is not always the picture-perfect show we see on TV. There's ups and downs, and that's OK. And... there's nothing wrong with speaking out or saying 'I'm having a tough day. I need to get somebody to talk to or help me on this.'"

The Meeks say Chalyce used the Kids Help Phone herself, and encouraged others to use it too.

"When Chalyce passed away, we were at her wake, and there was a young boy came through the lineup who would have been 17 at the time and he was visibly shaken," said Darin.

"He walked through by us and he turned around and came back and saw Chalyce lying there and he said, 'That was supposed to be me.' He said, 'She saved me last year.'"

The 5K Walk So Kids Can Talk is May 4 this year, starting from Confederation Landing Park.