Carrying On…

The Carrie Cotter Foundation and Memorial Fund honors the memory of Carrie Cotter and James Cotter by raising awareness for mental health education and suicide prevention efforts. These efforts include organizing and participating in walks for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the National Alliance on Mental Illness, organizing the global release of red balloons to raise awareness for World Suicide Prevention Day and raising money for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Please visit Cotter Memorial Donation Page to donate

or you can mail a check to:

Carrie Cotter Memorial Fund
c/o Austin Community Foundation
4315 Guadalupe Street, Suite 300
Austin, Texas 78751

100% of all donations go to National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Check out our calendar (www.carriecotter.com/calendar) and our blog (www.carriecotter.com/blog) to learn more about what we are doing to help others and how you can be involved in our efforts. We also have a Facebook page which shares our efforts and also many helpful mental health articles (facebook.com/CarryingOn).

The short version of the story:

On 10/26/17 my life changed forever. At 10:40am, I received the worst call a parent could receive and learned that my beautiful, intelligent, 17 year old daughter had taken her own life, after years of being tortured by her brilliant mind. Carrie was what is known as twice exceptional. By definition, she had a genius level IQ and her ways of just knowing things amazed and baffled me. She could figure things out in seconds and she never forgot a single thing. She also struggled with mental illness her whole life, but more profoundly during her last 5 years. She fought ADHD, depression and anxiety (and there were indicators of something bigger going on in her mind but not fully diagnosed yet – bipolar, schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder?) with therapy, many different prescription medications, and an inpatient stay at a psychiatric facility. She worked with numerous therapists, psychiatrists, ER doctors, and hospitalists. She also self-medicated with substance abuse and cutting. She was tormented by her brilliant mind her whole life. But you would never know that. She would never show any weakness or vulnerability and she was very charming and outgoing. She knew how to look “fine” and worked hard to appear so. She loved, and she felt loved. She had many plans for the future, including graduating college at 19 and returning to Kenya to help free teen girls from being sold into marriage. In Carrie’s letter to us she used the phrase, “sleepy baby needs to sleep forever.” When we googled that (with quotes) right after her death, we got 1 result – the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. I believe this was her way of asking us to help others, even if she, herself, had lost hope. #CarryingOn #forevermychild  #stopsuicide #8002738255

The short version of James’ story: Grief over the loss of his sister –> alcohol abuse –> anxiety and depression –> prescription meds (Oct 2018) –> 6 more meds (prescribed in Feb and March 2019) to combat the side effects of the original medication (even when I asked the doctor to wean him off of the original medication and treat him without medication. We only learned of the additional medications after his death.) + gaslighting by the psychiatrist –> complete personality change –> agitation, anger and panic –> erratic, impulsive, out-of-character behavior –> suicide.  Absolutely makes NO sense to ANYone who knew James. James was a confident, smart, easy-going, personable young man who LOVED life (until he started taking medication). He was a leader in many different aspects of his life and was loved by everyone. We always said his greatest gift to our family was his ability to always make the best of any situation. Last spring when talking about Carrie’s decision, his response to my statement that suicide is never an option was, “come on, mom. I think way too highly of myself to ever do that.”  James had no mental health concerns at all throughout his life, until he started taking a prescription medication for anxiety leading up to the anniversary of Carrie’s death. If you decide you need medication for your mental health, please do so under the close watch of a reputable doctor and if you have ANY suicidal thoughts, call your doctor and wean off them immediately. They can be addictive. I know that if James had never taken the first pill, he would still be with us.

Thank you for reading and supporting our efforts. Raising awareness about mental illness will lead to reducing the stigma surrounding it and more people will seek help and be cooperative with treatment and then the suicide rates will decrease. We want to help all those suffering from mental illness realize what God has promised: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you Hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11. This Bible verse was still hanging in Carrie’s dorm room on 10/26/17.

Your tax deductible donation will support the mission of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline as they provide free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They are committed to to improving crisis services, and advancing Suicide Prevention by empowering individuals, advancing professional best practices, and building awareness by providing resources to the public.

The Carrie Cotter Memorial Fund was created and developed through a collaboration between the Austin Community Foundation (ACF), Tim Swett and Elizabeth and Larry Cotter. Please be assured that ALL donations received through the Carrie Cotter Memorial Fund web link will be 100% donated to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline community (one of our donors is graciously covering the expenses imposed on the fund by ACF). ACF will be administrating the Fund webpage, providing donation confirmations, and transferring these donations in full to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline organization.

red balloons