Mum feared for daughter every day before her suicide after teenage grooming ordeal
A 20-year-old woman had struggled with her mental health for seven years before she took her own life, her grieving family have said.
The body of Caitlin O’Reilly was found at a Premier Inn in Manchester after she had been on a night out with friends.
Her family have said that her mental health began to suffer when she was 13 after being sexually groomed by an older man, reports Stoke-on-Trent Live.
They have spoken out as a brand new T-shirt collection has been launched in care worker Caitlin’s memory.
Mum Kay Speedman, from Newcastle-under-Lyme, said: “When we found out what had happened to her when she was 13, that was a big change in everybody’s life. At the time I was a police officer and I was on constant alert.
“She always thought that she was not worthy. The first time she came home from high school, I thought somebody had bullied her. She had got ‘not good enough’ written with a black pen down her forearm.
“I said ‘who’s done that to you’. She looked at me and said ‘it was me’.
“The problem we had is that at an early age, when she wasn’t ready, she was dealing with adult emotions and didn’t know how to.
“I knew her inside out. I’d be on pins thinking when I get home I am going to find blood in the bath when she self harmed or she is going to be unconscious on the bed.”
Despite battling her own demons, Caitlin was determined to help other girls struggling to cope during her short life.
Kay added: “She was always on the outskirts of the popular group. She never quite fit in or felt like she belonged, that stayed with her throughout into adulthood.
“Even when she was suffering with her own mental health she would stay up on social media for hours at night helping other kids. They would see at school she had self harmed and didn’t dare speak to her.
“At night she’d get a message ‘I’ve self harmed, what do I do’. She would sit up until the early hours talking to them. She was telling them they must do something about it and seek help. She would spend hours helping other people but she could never help herself.”
Paying tribute to her daughter, Kay added: “Caitlin was very much her father’s daughter. She was full of fun and was crackers but also very sensitive.
“The past year has been strange not having her here. We had her 21st birthday in January but we’ve also had her friend’s birthday too.
“I’m really pleased and happy for them but my girl is not there for me to spoil and have a big party for. It’s bittersweet.
“The message I want to give young girls is you’re beautiful, you’re good enough and you’re worthy. You don’t need a filter.”
The new range of T-shirts have been launched by Stoke-on-Trent youth charity, Ruff and Ruby.
Dubbed the Caitlin collection, the ‘Positivi-tee’ range features six tops each with a different slogan such as Peng Ting Inside, You Glow Gurl and Always Worthy, Always Good Enough.
All proceeds from sales will go to the Caitlin O’Reilly Fund which offers young people mental health support packages and early intervention.
Ruff and Ruby has also launched project ‘Worthy’ in memory of Caitlin to help prevent suicides.
Kay added: “I am so proud of what’s been accomplished. If all this effort saves one young person’s life, Caitlin’s hasn’t been wasted.
“It’s overwhelming to see the T-shirts on display and the efforts that the team have gone into to get everything together, it’s amazing.
“We need to show young girls that it isn’t all about Instagram and filters, you have got to love yourself.
“We are making young people think that they have got to fit into a box instead of making their own box.
“Hopefully pupils like Caitlin won’t fall through the cracks.”
Caitlin’s death on August 18 last year received worldwide exposure on Christmas Day when a heart-wrenching message from her dad, Pete O’Reilly, was shared by Robbie to his 2.57 million Twitter followers.
Since then, Pete has been on mission to raise money in his daughter’s honour and raised £3,000 by taking part in a 42-mile supermarathon in March.
Pete, from Trentham, said: “Caitlin made a terrible mistake, she had so much to give and she wanted to help so many people.”
“It’s a real honour to be supporting my daughter with such a fantastic charity. It just gives something back to the community and helps people to make the right decisions.
“They might not have all the answers but they welcome any questions that affect people’s mental health.
“I know Caitlin is with us in spirit and I know she is made up by it.
“It’s a fantastic range and hopefully it will inspire young kids who are feeling low to have a more positive mindset. Caitlin would’ve loved that.”
Charity founder Dawn Reynolds said: “The T-shirts are all about her legacy and her history. Out of her death there will be life for other people.
“For all the people feeling low, suffering from anxiety and depression and are thinking about taking their own life, our message is don’t give up. Tomorrow holds the answers to today’s problems.
“In a world where young people are given negative messages often through social media, and the pressures that they face, for us it’s really important that they see that there is hope and they have got a purpose.”