Trigger warning: This post discusses postpartum depression and suicide.
Just days after welcoming twin daughters, a Massachusetts family is grieving the loss of a beloved mother and wife.
Ariana Sutton died by suicide on May 31 after her husband, Tyler, says the 36-year-old mother of three developed severe postpartum depression. On May 22, Ariana gave birth to the couple’s twin girls, Everly Irene and Rowan Stephen, who joined 4-year-old big sister, Melody.
Nine days later, Ariana was gone.
Now Tyler is speaking out about the family’s devastating loss in hopes of bringing attention to postpartum depression and the need for more readily-available help for the women impacted by it.
“If we could just make it the norm asking for help, instead of [women] feeling shame for not being able to do it themselves, because this is a real thing. It is very, very real, very powerful, very dangerous, and shouldn’t be faced [alone],” Tyler told Good Morning America this week.
In the GMA interview, Tyler recounted how Ariana had developed postpartum depression after the birth of their first child in 2018, but he’d thought her changes in mood and personality were just part of the exhaustion and experience of being a new mom. But when things didn’t improve, the couple took action. “I came home [from work] one morning and I just couldn’t recognize the person sitting in front of me,” he told GMA. “So we dropped my daughter off with her grandmother and got her to the hospital where they said it was postpartum depression.”
Ariana was able to get the help she needed, a combination of medication and seeing a mental health professional, but Tyler says if they’d had more knowledge of postpartum mental health care, they could have found help sooner.
When the couple decided to add to their family, he says they made a plan to meet any postpartum depression head-on. “We got a team together—a psychiatrist that we had known for four years and a therapist that she continued to speak with for all those four years, because she was always in fear that it would return,” he said.
But when twins Everly and Rowan were born a few weeks prematurely, Tyler said the strain of the early delivery triggered his wife’s postpartum depression, catching everyone off guard. “What happened to her over the span of a few weeks happened this time around within a couple of days,” Tyler told GMA. “And even though we had a plan in place, there was no way for us to predict that this would happen so quickly and so suddenly. It just came out of nowhere and we weren’t ready.”
Now Tyler says he’ll spend the rest of his life advocating for awareness about postpartum depression and bringing attention to the mental health needs of new mothers.
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A GoFundMe organized by friends has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the family. Organizers of the fundraiser shared about Ariana and their hope to make the future a little easier for the three girls she leaves behind:
Ariana, a vibrant and devoted mother, was eagerly awaiting the arrival of her twins, Everly Irene Sutton and Rowan Stephen Sutton. Unfortunately, their early arrival brought unforeseen challenges, placing an immense strain on Ariana’s mental health. Despite her relentless efforts to seek help, the burden of postpartum depression became too much to bear. Our hearts break for Ariana, her babies, and the Sutton family, as they now face the unimaginable task of moving forward without her.
Tyler shared a message of thanks on the page as well, along with a photo of his three daughters and another of him holding his infant twins:
Thank you to all the donors. Thank you to all of those sharing this story with their family, neighbors, friends, and networks. Thank you to all of those raising awareness of postpartum depression. Thank you to the Special Care Nursery medical staff, who Ariana loved and adored, and have been watching over Everly & Rowan as they’ve progressed. Thank you everyone – the support has come in so many different forms, and it gives us hope.
According to the CDC, postpartum depression affects 1 in 8 women and is more severe than the “baby blues” commonly associated with having a baby. Symptoms could include:
- Crying more often than usual.
- Feelings of anger
- Withdrawing from loved ones
- Feeling numb or disconnected from your baby
- Worrying that you will hurt the baby
- Feeling guilty about not being a good mom or doubting your ability to care for the baby
If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression, please contact a medical professional. A helpline is available through Postpartum Support International by calling 1-800-944-4773.
Note: The information included above is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.