LOSING a child at any age is heartbreaking for a parent to deal with, but for Karyn-Ann Whalon the loss of her daughter Chloe-Ann to suicide has torn the Gulmarrad mother into pieces.
After battling depression and severe mental illness for several years, Chloe-Ann took her own life last weekend and her mother is fighting to ensure no parent ever experiences the hurt she is feeling.
"I have never felt anything like this in my life," Ms Whalon said. "I sat with my mother last year when she passed away and that was terrifying. I still have nightmares of that day now but it is nothing compared to this feeling.
"There is no way to describe this total heartbreak. I wouldn't want anybody, nobody in the world to have to suffer like I am."
Ms Whalon said it had been tough to get Chloe-Ann the help she so desperately needed with her daughter always wearing a persona in counselling sessions.
"It is just so disappointing. I asked mental health for help, I begged them for help," she said. "She would lie to people, she would tell them she was happy, she would wear a fake smile and they just believed her."
Earlier this month Chloe-Ann had made an attempt on her life when her mother had found her and was able to resuscitate the teenager.
She was taken to a local hospital before being released into her mother's care 24 hours later. According to Ms Whalon hospital staff told her to keep an eye on her daughter but there was no immediate risk.
Before her daughter's death, Ms Whalon said Chloe-Ann had appeared in high spirits. Chloe-Ann had played with her siblings, laughed and joked.
That was why Ms Whalon was unsuspecting when Chloe-Ann disappeared to a secluded part of their Gulmarrad property.
"I just wish I had gone looking for her that day," Ms Whalon said. "Two weeks ago I went searching for her for two hours before I found her and was able to bring her back. But this time I just let her go.
"I said to myself 'No, don't chase her, she just needs a breather, she just needs time to herself'. And now my daughter is gone.
"I knew she needed help, but I never thought it would come to this. Counsellors assured me that it was probably more attention seeking and I tried to convince myself that is what it was. But it wasn't."
Ms Whalon said a change needed to happen; something needed to be done to better protect the struggling children in the Clarence Valley. "There have been more kids that have passed since Chloe, and it is just so frightening," she said. "We need to do something but I don't know what can be done.
"Maybe we need younger mental health workers. These people are older than me and I just don't think the kids can relate to them or open up fully to them.
"I have three older children in New Zealand who had not seen Chloe in five years. They were meant to be coming home soon for her 18th birthday, not for her funeral."
For those in need of support there is help available.
Lifeline 13 11 14
headspace 1800 650 890
Kids Help Line 1800 55 1800
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