“Los­ing my dad gave me a Drive no one can take away!”

J-14 - - Real Life -

Mol­lyKate Cline was only 9 years old when her life was first im­pacted by the shock­ing ef­fects of sui­cide. Wo­ken from a dream by her mom, the Colum­bus, Ohio, na­tive was given the dev­as­tat­ing news: Her fa­ther had passed away. “I re­mem­ber feel­ing con­fused more than any­thing,” Mol­lyKate, now 18, tells J-14. “A part of me wanted to go look for him, be­cause I was in too much shock to be­lieve her.” Be­cause she was so young, Mol­lyKate’s mom re­frained from telling her that her dad had in fact taken his own life. But that didn’t pre­vent Mol­lyKate from fall­ing into a deep de­pres­sion, though at that age, she didn’t know that what she was feel­ing had a la­bel. “I was qui­eter, slept any chance I got, and found ex­cuses not to leave my house,” she says. “I knew I was sad, but I just as­sumed it was war­ranted be­cause

I had just lost a par­ent.”

“No one un­der­stood me”

Dur­ing that rough time pe­riod, Mol­lyKate be­gan mak­ing her own clothes and she dyed her hair blonde — two things that made her a vic­tim of ex­treme bul­ly­ing. “I would get called ‘weirdo’ and ‘wannabe,’” she re­calls. “No one un­der­stood me.” And some class­mates’ taunts were even meaner. “I re­mem­ber a girl telling me, ‘At least I have a dad,’” she painfully shares. From the fifth grade un­til her fresh­man year of high school, Mol­lyKate put up with the bul­ly­ing. Out­side of school, she used art ther­apy and de­sign­ing her own clothes as ways to cope with all of the emo­tions she was deal­ing with. “Over time, I was able to find my own crowd of artsy peo­ple,” Mol­lyKate ex­plains. “Peo­ple be­gan to re­al­ize I wasn’t ‘weird’ af­ter all.”

Though high school was seem­ingly go­ing to be smooth sail­ing com­pared to her mid­dle school ex­pe­ri­ence, Mol­lyKate was dealt one dev­as­tat­ing blow af­ter

another come her sopho­more year. “My mom told me my dad com­mit­ted sui­cide the night be­fore my 16th birth­day,” she says. “A week later, one of my clos­est friends, Ally, took her own life as well. I can’t even ex­press how trau­ma­tiz­ing it was.”

It would have been easy to fall right back into that deep de­pres­sion she first ex­pe­ri­enced so many years ago. In­stead, Mol­lyKate fought through it, and used her ex­pe­ri­ences to make a change, re­ly­ing on her dad and her friend as in­spi­ra­tion to move for­ward. “Los­ing my dad put a drive in­side of me that I be­lieve no one can take away,” she smiles. “And Ally in­spired me to fi­nally take a stand against bul­ly­ing and speak up about the stigma around men­tal health!”

“I feel em­pow­ered!”

That stand started small, with a group of Ally’s friends meet­ing weekly to help each other cope with los­ing a loved one to sui­cide. But be­fore long, Mol­lyKate re­al­ized she had found her pas­sion. “For ju­nior and se­nior year, I de­voted my time to as much men­tal health aware­ness com­mu­nity ser­vice as I could do,” she tells J-14. “I feel em­pow­ered be­cause the more we talk about de­pres­sion, sui­cide, bul­ly­ing and men­tal ill­ness, the more peo­ple will feel com­fort­able dis­cussing it.”

Mol­lyKate’s ac­tions go far be­yond sim­ply talk­ing about men­tal health. Her se­nior year, to­gether with her

a jour­nal­ism class, she put to­gether school mag­a­zine ded­i­cated to men­tal health is­sues. Then, she lob­bied for men­tal health aware­ness at the Ohio

bill Se­nate, and most re­cently, wrote a that she hopes will get passed in 2017 that will en­cour­age men­tal health ed­u­ca­tion in ev­ery K-12 school in Ohio.

about de­pres­sion in “If I had learned school, I be­lieve my life would’ve made a lot more sense to me,” she shares. “I’m ex­cited for the fu­ture — I hope to see some ma­jors changes soon!” We know you will, Mol­lyKate!

“I still have bad days where I won­der about my dad,” Mol­lyKate says. “I’m speak­ing out to de­crease the stigma. We should be will­ing to open up!” “I want to nor­mal­ize men­tal health just like we do phys­i­cal health,” Mol­lyKate tells J-14.

▲ Mol­lyKate and her sis­ter are both pas­sion­ate about sui­cide aware­ness. “We do art to­gether to cope,” she says. “I feel com­pletely at peace with my­self when de­sign­ing,” Mol­lyKate smiles. An early de­sign! If Demi took her pas­sion to Capi­tol Hill in...

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