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

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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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WARNING SIGNALS FOR SUICIDE

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

"We're reading from her Facebook page that she was bullied because of how she dressed. She dressed all in black. She was bullied for her sexual orientation, but she was just figuring out who she was," Hannah said.

Her other aunt, Bobbi, agreed that Kitty was trying to find herself, as every young teenager does, but she was still at the stage of crushes and first kisses.

"She just turned 13," Bobbi said. "She didn't even know."

Her grandfather, Fred, said he had asked Kitty for permission to talk to her school guidance counselor so he could understand how to help her as she worked through her sexual identity.

"I wanted someone professional to call me and tell me what to do," he said.

Fred described one incident in which boys confronted Kitty on the school bus, threatening her with vulgar language and kicking her. Kitty punched back, and the school labeled it a fight rather than bullying, he said.

"There were only a few days that she was angry at the sexual slur and innuendo," Fred said. "She blew up. She got over it. And she got back to being her perky, usual self."

That was how she was on the night of March 25. She was at home with her family cracking jokes and laughing as she often did.

"Kitty used to tease me," Fred said. "She would joke about putting me in a nursing home and stuff."

He said the only time Kitty was out of his sight was between 7 and 8 p.m. and some time in the hour before he went to bed at 10 p.m.

"That's what was going on with Kitty the night she killed herself. The same Kitty. The same jokes," her grandfather said. "There was nothing leading up to it to tip me off. I don't have any answers. I keep thinking that there's something I could have done."

Kitty's brother was the first to find her. He went into her bedroom early in the morning on March 26, realized something was wrong and went to get his grandfather, other family members said.

The Waldo County Sheriff's Office has declined to comment on Kitty's death, saying only that it's still under investigation.

Kitty's family gave investigators her iPod, which she used to message with friends and to access Facebook, but authorities have so far been unable to unlock it to see whether she exchanged a final communication with anyone. Investigators expect it will take several more weeks before Apple provides them with her password, her grandfather said.

"We did everything we could from what we knew," Fred said. "We don't have the story yet."

A PROTEST

Kitty's cousin, Kaitlyn McGuire, organized a rally on April 1 outside Mount View Middle School, "peacefully protesting the bullying policies, or lack thereof," she said in a notice she posted on the Bangor Daily News website.

About 20 people attended, trying to bring attention to the issue of bullying.

The school allowed the rally on school grounds without interference, although school officials say it's too early to say that Kitty was bullied.

Kaitlyn, a student at Skowhegan Area High School, said she didn't see her cousin often because they lived far apart, but they kept in touch on Facebook.

"I knew she was being bullied, but she didn't talk about it," she said. "She was always smiling. She was one of the happiest kids I know."

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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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