ST. LOUIS ( — The COVID-19 pandemic isn’t just taking a toll on the economy, it’s also weighing on the mental health of Americans across the nation.

On World Suicide Prevention Day, a local mother hopes her daughter’s story helps prevent someone else from losing a loved one.

Emmy Hamlin carries a weight on her heart that no parent should ever have to bear.

Her daughter Alydia took her life last year.

“She gave me a big hug and she said, ‘I love you mama,’ and she went up to her room and she closed her door,” Hamlin said. “And when I came home later I found her and it just completely rocked everything I ever thought I knew.”

This would have been Alydia’s senior year of high school.

“She lived for the stage, she loved to be in front of a crowd playing music,” Hamlin recalled. “She had bright red hair and a bright red personality. She was silly and goofy and her sense of humor was dry and witty.”

At the time of her death, Alydia was being treated for depression, but her mother says she never expected her daughter’s life to end.

Bart Andrews, suicide survivor and chief clinical officer at Behavioral Health Response, explained that’s why the danger can be so hard to see.

“It’s one of those things that happens in the dark corners of the mind, so it’s nearly impossible to see the signs, because part of the disease is hiding the signs,” Andrews said. “This idea that there’s this magic signal and we know who’s at risk of suicide and who isn’t is not true.”

Instead, he said we should focus on the things people say and how they’re doing.

“When people are giving you clear signs that they’re not doing well, that they’re losing hope, that they’re feeling trapped, we need to pay attention. We need to take those things seriously,” he said. 

He also said we need to be comfortable asking about whether a person is considering suicide. 

With so many people struggling amid the pandemic, Andrews said it’s critical to have open and honest conversations.

It’s a fact Hamlin knows all too well, and she too urges parents to tough conversations with their kids.

“Keep the discussions open. Be understanding of their feelings. Realize this is not the school year that they wanted, it’s not the school year any of us wanted,” she said. 

She also continues to share Alydia’s story in hopes of helping others.

“I’ll never know if she got to a point where she wanted to back out but couldn’t,” she said. “There was no sign that this was going to happen or that she would or that she was capable of [taking her life].”

“Someday I will see her on the other side and be able to give her a big hug,” she added. “And reassure her that she was worth it.”

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