Finding their way out of the darkness

By Sarah Thompson
Baltimore Watchdog Staff Writer

Sienna Caselle was a straight A student at Catoctin High School. She lettered in three sports, volunteered at St. Joseph Ministries by bringing meals to senior citizens, and was a certified snowboard trainer who taught the physically disabled skills they could take to the slopes.

Then at 6:15 a.m. on April 15, the 18-year-old from Thurmont, Maryland, hanged herself in her closet, leaving many loved ones behind.

“We learned that she was sleep deprived,” said Michael Caselle, Sienna’s father who found her that morning. “She would do a full day of school. Do homework in the wee hours of the night, talk to her boyfriend, and be on social media. So, we felt she was sleep deprived. We feel social media was a contributing factor as well. We believe that maybe there was some bullying going on, and that there were some psychological problems because of that.”

Sienna Caselle water skis with a friend. Photo provided by the Caselle family.

Sienna Caselle water skis with a friend. Photo provided by the Caselle family.

Sienna Caselle and an estimated 42,000 Americans who take their own lives every year will be remembered Saturdayduring the Out of Darkness Walk scheduled for 11 a.m. at the Maryland State Fairgrounds at 2200 York Road in Lutherville-Timonium.

The Out of Darkness Walk organizers expect about 250,000 people in more than 380 cities across all 50 states to walk from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“Out of Darkness Walks are for those who want to turn pain and hurt together in a positive thing,” said Keirsten Maclellan, the chairperson of the Baltimore Chapter of the Out of Darkness Walk. “I lost my brother in May of 2016, so most of the people that come have dealt with the same thing. The goal of the walk is for those who have dealt with suicide, have a place to come together.”

Those who want to register for The Out of Darkness Walks should visit The Out of Darkness website and sign up for walks around the area. Maclellan said participants can also contact any member on the website, including herself, for information.

Maclellan said the walks also help family members celebrate the lives of those they lost to suicide.

“I do not want it to be a place to morn,” she said. “I want it to be a place to come and unite those whom we have lost due to suicide.”

Maclellan said the walks are designed to raise money for suicde prevention research and education to hopefully decrease the percentage of suicide death in the area.

“There’s no single cause for suicide,” said Stephanie Coggin, the vice president of communication for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. “Depression is the most common condition associated with suicide, and it is often undiagnosed or untreated. Some common warning signs can include a sudden change in behaviors due to changes in that person’s life and/or exclusion from activities.”

The Caselle family are a testament that the signs are not always easy to detect.

‘We were unaware. She was a pretty ‘well-adjusted kid’ with a ‘normal life,’” Caselle said about his daughter Sienna.

Sienna Caselle.

Sienna Caselle.

Michael Caselle and friends started a non-profit on May 12, 2016 – Sienna’s birthday — to organize volunteers to help those with disabilities to participate in sports like water or snow skiing and snowboarding.

The nonprofit One Way or Another has given Michael Caselle a chance to live out Sienna’s journey and help others through her vision.

Caselle said he and his family and friends miss Sienna every day. Caselle said he urges parents to watch their children more closely.

“There’s a certain time of the day to turn off the phone and monitor what your kids are doing,” he said. “Let them know you are available to them at all times.”

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