On July 2, 2020, local mother Beatrice Gurley got the call no mother wants to receive. Her 15-year-old daughter Charly had suddenly, and very unexpectedly, taken her own life.
“I had no clue. She was a happy kid, my best friend, we did everything together,” Gurley said. “I always told my kids it would devastate me not having them around.”
According to Gurley, there was seemingly nothing leading up to this tragic event.
Charly was a student at Mabank High School. She liked to walk the neighborhood dogs, sing in the choir and had many friends, including her best friend Maxx, the boxer. She was close to a couple of her teachers as well.
According to Gurley, she confided in them that she loved her mom very much, and she was always there for her. Another thing she mentioned was the pain of a family member fighting alcohol abuse and the negative effects that had on her.
“I would tell her she is perfect,” Gurley said. “I always told her that as long as she had me, that was all she needed.”
Charly started hanging out with older kids who were experimenting with drugs and when her mom found out, she took her phone in an effort to cause a separation between the bad influences and her daughter.
“I had her tell me everything. She told me she had done pot and edibles,” Gurley said. “I trusted these kids, I even allowed one of them to move in with me. They introduced her to drugs.”
On July 1, Charly went to her room and cleaned it, then she joined her mother to sleep. Gurley had made plans for them Friday and left her to sleep in while she went to work.
Around 8:15 a.m. she got a message from Mike, Charly’s dad, telling her to come home. She called him back in a panic and asked what happened, he said “I can’t tell you anything. Just get home.”
“I started to panic. I said I need to talk to Charly now,” Gurley said. “I wanted my baby on the phone. He was silent, then hung up.”
This is when the possible outcomes started to hit her. When she arrived, three officers met her at the car and did not allow her to face the house.
“I kept getting backed against the car. I started screaming and crying, ‘I need to see my baby!’” Gurley said. “They said, ‘I’m sorry, she is gone.’”
The pain eventually grew so bad that Gurley couldn’t take it anymore and started drinking and cutting around six months later.
“I wanted to feel the pain,” she said. “One of my friends called and I told her what I was doing and my brother came, he said ‘I don’t know how to help you.’”
Her job gave her some time off to recover, and she improved for a time, but started cutting again. Her son noticed and said, “Mama don’t.”
“My daughter Sarah saw I was cutting. Looking at her face, she said I need you, we need you,” Gurley said. “I knew I had to get help right away.”
Gurley found a therapy group with the help of her daughter, Sarah, and friend Leslie Richardson to assist her in recovering from the tragic loss.
“All of the support I have is what helps me the most,” she said. “When I feel myself going down, I call my support system of family, coworkers and friends.”
Gurley shared her story in honor of September being suicide prevention month.
“Bottom line, pay attention to their friends,” Gurley said. “I don’t want any more parents having to go through this. It was and is very hard on me. To be so close and have such a bond and yet my little girl was struggling and I didn’t know it.”
If you are experiencing mental health struggles such as depression, cutting or beyond, there is an organization available in Athens to help: National Mental Health Alliance Greater Athens. They can guide you on how to find the right resources and support. For more information please visit nami.org.
Gurley said she also found support on Facebook with other families dealing with suicide.