STOUGHTON, Mass. Ariana Sutton, a dancer and mother of three whose husband is a Massachusetts police officer, took her own life May 31 after giving birth to twins. Her family is asking for community support to raise awareness of postpartum depression.
Catherine Sutton, Ariana’s sister-in-law, said the family wants to make sure mothers aren’t ashamed to look after their own mental health.
“It’s so important that you ask for help,” she said. “If another family is able to avoid what we’re going through right now, our story is worth sharing.”
The twins, born a month early, are in the neonatal intensive care unit at Newton-Wellesley Hospital, where they are expected to remain until their official due date at the end of the month.
“It is with heavy hearts that we share the heartbreaking news of Ariana Sutton, a loving mother who tragically took her own life just days after giving birth to newborn twins,” reads the charity appeal on GoFundMe. “The weight of this tragedy is unimaginable, but together we can offer our love, strength and financial assistance to help this family through their challenging journey.”
“A kind and gentle human being”
Sutton, 36, died May 31 at her home in Norton, according to her obituary. She co-owns the Starline Academy for the Performing Arts in Stoughton with her sister Rayna Flaherty. She is survived by 4-year-old Melody Ki, newborn twins Everly Irene and Rowan Stephen Sutton, and husband Stephen “Tyler” Sutton, who is an Easton police officer.
“He’s one of those guys who loves doing his job and helping people,” said Tyler Sutton’s brother Jason. He said Ariana was a “very kind and gentle human being.”
As of Monday afternoon, backers had pledged $233,685. Donations will help fund childcare and support the family’s long-term finances. The family members who organized the appeal said they hoped to raise awareness about postpartum depression and mental health both during and after pregnancy.
“By promoting a community of solidarity, we can strive to prevent other families from experiencing similar tragedies”, reads the appeal. “In memory of Ariana Sutton, let’s unite to honor her legacy, celebrate her love for her children, and provide the support her family desperately needs.”
Family members said Tyler Sutton plans to move back to Easton. Jason and Catherine Sutton, who also live in Easton, are expecting a daughter in August. The twins will be around the same age as the newcomer.
“Ariana wanted these kids so badly. She lived to be a mother,” said Jason Sutton. “The twins are the cutest babies ever.”
The bigger picture about postpartum depression
Postpartum depression can affect about 1 in 7 women, according to the National Institutes of Health. It is a form of major depression that can take hold in early pregnancy or within four weeks of giving birth.
According to the Mayo Clinic, here are the symptoms to watch out for.
Depressed mood or severe mood swings
Crying too much
Difficulty bonding with your baby
Withdrawal from family and friends
Loss of appetite or eating much more than usual
Inability to sleep, called insomnia, or sleeping too much
Overwhelming tiredness or loss of energy
Less interest and pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
Intense irritability and anger
Fear of not being a good mother
Feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt, or inadequacy
Reduced ability to think clearly, concentrate or make decisions
Severe anxiety and panic attacks
Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
Recurring thoughts of death or suicide
If you or someone you know may be struggling with suicidal thoughts, you can call or text the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 or 1-800-273-8255 or chat online at 988lifeline.org
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This article originally appeared in The Enterprise: Massachusetts mom’s death sheds light on postpartum depression
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