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