"Forever a little girl now" mother speaks out about daughter's suicide

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More than 1,300 children between the ages of 5 and 12 years old committed suicide in the US from 1999 to 2015.
And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), those numbers are on the rise.

News 10's Alani Letang brings you the story of a grieving mother still looking for answers about why her daughter took her own life.

"She was a wonderful wonderful child," said Ruth Lee, mother of Shakayla (12 y/o) who died by suicide.

Shakayla was Ruth Lee's only girl, who was described as a free-spirited child who loved to sing and dance.

"She had the brightest smile, she could make anyone laugh. Anyone she met they were instantly drawn to her," said Ruth.

But Shakayla was drawn away from this world, and it was a secret, her mother said, that was kept from her.

Ruth said, "there was no warning. I had no idea that she would ever try to do something like this."

On May 27th, 2015, Shakayla ender her life. "It's been 3 years now and I still, just speaking her name. the thought of her not being here brings me to tears" said Ruth.

That day in May, Shakayla came home from school and her mother told her to clean her room "but I didn't say it in the nicest way."

After being in her room, Shakayla then went to the bathroom with the door shut for 10 minutes. But then her brothers had to use the bathroom "so they go to use the restroom and they found her hanging in there" Ruth explained.

Shakayla died two days later in the hospital. Shakayla is part of an upsetting number of pre-teen suicides in 2015. According to the CDC that year, 102 children 12 years old and younger died by suicide. Experts said they believe listening to your child's feelings will help lower the statistic.

"Don't shut down feelings ever. Even though you don't want to know your child is intensely sad, hearing about it and empathizing about it is the best medicine" said Dr. Erin Leonard, psychotherapist.

It's medicine that could save a life. Dr.Erin Leonard is a psychotherapist and author who said when children are feeling sad or alone the first thing they think of is an escape.

"The feelings are really what cause the suicidal ideation, there are things that they're exposed to that we don't know about," said Dr. Leonard.

An example of "things" that a child might be exposed to are bullies, like the ones Shakayla's had.
Ruth said Shakayla had a problem with bullies and some of them were on the bus.

"Then I found out later on after she passed that she was being tormented in the classroom," said Ruth.

Dr. Leonard described bullying as one of the three reasons that put kids at risk to commit suicide.
It's a lesson Ruth said she wants to spread to other parents, in hopes they will pass it on to their kids to speak up for those being bullied.

"If there's somebody you see that other kids aren't being friendly too, be their friend," Ruth said.

Ruth said she would for kids to not keep bullying silent. And if they see it, tell them to stop.

Shakayla was "just a wonderful little girl, and she's going to be forever a little girl now," said Ruth.

There's help for children who need to talk to someone, it's the national suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255
Or you can text the word "connect" to the number 741741.

You can also visit the websites below for more information.
LINK: Michigan Suicide Prevention Resource Cente
LINK: Suicide Prevention Centers