STOUGHTON, Mass. – Ariana Sutton, a dancer and mother of three whose husband is a Massachusetts police officer, took her own life on May 31, after giving birth to twins. Her family is asking for the community’s support as they raise awareness about postpartum depression.
Catherine Sutton, sister-in-law of Ariana, said the family wants to make sure mothers don’t feel shame about attending to their own mental health.
“It’s so important that you ask for help,” she said. “If another family’s able to avoid what we’re going through right now, it’s worth it to share our story.”
The twins, born a month early, are in the neonatal intensive care unit at Newton-Wellesley Hospital, where they are expected to remain through the official due date at the end of the month.
“It is with heavy hearts that we share the heartbreaking news of Ariana Sutton, a loving mother who tragically took her own life only days after delivering newborn twins,” reads the charity appeal on GoFundMe. “The weight of this tragedy is unimaginable, but together, we can offer our love, strength and financial assistance to help this family through their challenging journey.”
‘A gentle, kind human being’
Sutton, 36, died May 31 at her home in Norton, according to her obituary. She co-owned Starline Academy for the Performing Arts in Stoughton with her sister Rayna Flaherty. She leaves behind 4-year-old Melody Ki, newborn twins Everly Irene and Rowan Stephen Sutton, and husband Stephen “Tyler” Sutton, who is an Easton police officer.
“He’s one of those guys who loves doing his job and helping people,” said Tyler Sutton’s brother Jason. He said Ariana was a “very gentle, kind human being.”
As of Monday afternoon, well-wishers had pledged $233,685. Donations will help fund childcare and shore up the family’s long-term finances. Family members who set up the appeal said they hoped to raise awareness about postpartum depression and mental health both during and after pregnancy.
“By fostering a supportive community, we can strive to prevent other families from experiencing similar tragedies,” the appeal read. “In memory of Ariana Sutton, let us unite to honor her legacy, celebrate her love for her children, and provide the support her family desperately needs.”
Family members said Tyler Sutton plans to move back to Easton. Jason and Catherine Sutton, who also live in Easton, are expecting a daughter in August. The twins will be about the same age as the new arrival.
“Ariana wanted these kids so badly. She lived to be a mother,” Jason Sutton said. “The two twins are the cutest kids ever.”
The larger picture on postpartum depression
Postpartum depression may affect about 1 in every 7 women, according to the National Institutes of Health. It is a form of major depression that may take hold at the beginning of pregnancy or within four weeks of giving birth.
According to the Mayo Clinic, here are symptoms to watch out for.
- Depressed mood or severe mood swings
- Crying too much
- Difficulty bonding with your baby
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Loss of appetite or eating much more than usual
- Inability to sleep, called insomnia, or sleeping too much
- Overwhelming tiredness or loss of energy
- Less interest and pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
- Intense irritability and anger
- Fear that you’re not a good mother
- Feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt or inadequacy
- Reduced ability to think clearly, concentrate or make decisions
- Severe anxiety and panic attacks
- Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
- Recurring thoughts of death or suicide