11-year-old California girl kills herself after five-month battle with depression; mom hopes to raise awareness
Nelly Pelaez hung herself in the bedroom of her home in Los Angeles on November 5, and her mom is now trying to raise awareness for other children in similar situations
An 11-year-old California girl killed herself following a five-month battle with depression that began after the pre-teen had a fight with one of her close friends.
Nelly Pelaez hung herself at her home in Los Angeles on November 5, and her mother, 43-year-old Kathleen Rupp Pelaez, wants to raise awareness about children who may be going through similar situations so they can seek necessary help.
Kathleen revealed that she did not suspect her daughter would take such a drastic step because she had been doing much better for herself in the days leading up to the suicide. "She became this warm and loving girl again," she said, according to the Daily Mail.
The 11-year-old had changed schools and was making new friends through her nightly dance classes and the 43-year-old mother suspects the "force of depression hit her hard" in the middle of the night of her suicide.
On that fateful day, the mom said Nelly was in a "delightful mood" after enjoying a sushi lunch with her family and going shopping for art supplies. Before going to bed, the pre-teen, who Kathleen said loved to paint and draw, reportedly painted a "beautiful" canvas of a city landscape with a park at sunset.
"I remember I said 'goodnight baby' and she said 'goodnight mom', and then I left. That was the last time I talked to her," the mom said. The next morning, at around 5:55 am, Kathleen saw what she thought was her daughter kneeling next to the bed and praying. But she realized to her horror that Nelly had hung herself. She cut her daughter from the noose and called 911 but emergency responders would declare her dead at the scene.
Kathleen said Nelly had fallen out with a friend at summer camp and since begun to experience "dark moods" where she would "withdraw," struggle to sleep, and often experience suicidal thoughts. She went through sessions with a therapist and a psychiatrist and would even sign an agreement promising her mother she wouldn't harm herself, but to little avail.
"She once asked me to remove a framed photo from her room because of the glass in the frame," the mother revealed. "She said, 'If I am feeling depressed or dark, I don't want that there'. She asked me to remove it and I did. She had engaged in self-injurious behavior but not ever to a degree that required any medical attention."
Kathleen said that despite agreeing to the contract, Nelly harmed herself two further times before her final and fatal attempt and that she felt "helpless" she couldn't do anything to help. "I felt very helpless. There had never been a problem that either of my children had had that I wasn't able to kiss and cuddle away. I could not help her," she said.
Following her death, the mother set up a GoFundMe page to raise donations that will go towards spreading awareness about depression in children and also help cover costs of her memorial service. Over 400 donors contributed $22,000 to the cause.
"She was only 11. She could have had 90 years in front of her," Kathleen said. " I have to now live in a world without Nelly. It's a different world I live in now, and it's not a world I want to live in without my daughter."
She continued: "We don't realize, we don't believe that a child this age would make this choice and so we don't have the conversation. I just want to put every resource I can towards helping a child that thinks that this is their only option, or that this is the best option."
The 11-year-old's death is currently being investigated by the Los Angeles County Coroner but the LAPD has insisted that it is not being treated as suspicious.
If you’re thinking about suicide, are worried about a friend or loved one, or would like emotional support, you can always talk to someone. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on 1-800-273-TALK (8255).