April 8, 2013

What Kitty McGuire left behind: happy memories, many questions

The 13-year-old's family points to reports of bullying and her grief over a beloved uncle's suicide, but struggle to understand why she took her life.

By Scott Dolan sdolan@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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Aunts and uncles of Kitty McGuire talk about their 13-year-old niece, who took her life last month in Troy. From left, Bobbi Pelletier and Michael McGuire join Hannah and Timothy McGuire at the couple's home in Bangor. They hope that when police obtain access to Kitty's messages on her iPod, it may yield some answer to the mystery of what triggered her suicide.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

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Kitty McGuire

Photo McGuire family

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Carrie Horne, assistant director of the Maine division of National Alliance on Mental Illness, a nonprofit agency, said suicide very rarely comes without some sort of warning.

"Most of the time, 90 percent of the time, people show signs of suicide before they are going to kill themselves," Horne said.

Horne said there are imminent signs to watch for:

Making threats, even vague threats, such as "I wish I was dead" or "What's the point of living?"

Looking for ways to carry out a suicide plan, such as looking for a firearm or rope.

Writing about death, texting about death or suicide or drawing pictures of suicide.

Other signs include moodiness, sadness, irritability, anger, withdrawing from friends and family, changes in sleep patterns such as insomnia or sleeping too much, feeling hopeless or feeling trapped.

Horne said people who feel suicidal or are worried about a loved one should call the state mental health crisis number, 1-888-568-1112.

-- From staff reports

Timothy and Hannah moved to their own home in Bangor. Last week, they gathered there with Michael and Bobbi to talk about Kitty and what went wrong.

"Mom and Dad took them (Kitty and her brother), and we all collectively raised them," Michael said.

Kitty's aunts and uncles describe her as vibrant and outspoken, jokey and prone to playing pranks, a rough and tumble tomboy.

She was driven and relentless when she was interested in something. She mastered how to use nunchucks, a quick-swinging martial arts weapon, staying up nights to get better and then showing off her new skills to her family.

She was interested in anything to do with the professional wrestling enterprise WWE, especially the wrestler John Cena. She listened to music on her iPod and was always on the phone with friends.

"She was happy with whatever she was doing as long as she was with everybody else," Michael said. "She was a little tomboy."

Kitty loved competing with her Marine uncle, comparing her height and hand size to his. At 5-foot-6, she was only an inch shorter than he.

Michael said he showed Kitty how to do a diamond push-up on one of his visits home. She practiced it over and over until his next visit, to show how strong she was getting.

"She'd pull a prank on someone, then come running up and put her arms around you and say, 'But you love me because I'm the baby,'" Bobbi recalled. "She had a mischievous little grin, bright eyes and long blond hair, but she'd always have it in a ponytail."

Bobbi recalled one of Kitty's pranks when she went out to their car in the middle of winter, rolled down the windows, turned on the air conditioning and moved all the items from the back seat into the front seats. When they found her afterward, she was back in the house, snuggled under a warm blanket, reveling in her stunt.

Timothy and Hannah recalled Kitty catching the bouquet at their wedding. She was always the one who caught wedding bouquets, they said. In pictures from the event, Kitty is in a long black dress, smiling, holding flowers in one photo and dancing with Timothy in another.

"Nobody saw this coming at all," Hannah said. "That's why we're so confused. She didn't give any indication of this."

"There's got to be something that set her off. Kids don't randomly get up and do something like that," Hannah said.

Kitty's friends maintain that bullying must have been the reason she killed herself, and her uncles agree.

"I can't think of anything else that would make her do it, only the family loss, Ed," Michael said.

Carrie Horne, assistant director of the Maine division of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, said young people aren't always obvious about their emotions.

"Sometimes you see in youths, there are certain times in their lives you can see them sad. There are other situations they seem absolutely happy and normal," Horne said. "They can seem like everything is normal at school, and then at home they may withdraw more. They may show these signs only to certain people."


Kitty turned 13 about a month before her death and was only beginning to question her sexual identity, her family said.

Her aunt Hannah noticed she began paying more attention to her hair and experimenting with eyeliner. Other students have characterized Kitty as possibly gay or bisexual.

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Additional Photos

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Michael McGuire, one of Kitty’s uncles, remembers the messages she would write to him on his bathroom mirror to cheer him up. She also delighted in playing pranks on him.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

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Bobbi Pelletier, an aunt of Kitty McGuire, says, “She was so sweet, she’d curl up on the couch with us.” She says Kitty, having just turned 13, was trying to find herself.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

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Kitty McGuire holds the bouquet she caught at the wedding of Timothy and Hannah McGuire three years ago. She was always the one who caught wedding bouquets, the couple said.

Family photo

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Heather Perry


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