For Florence Leung and her husband Kim Chen, adding a child to their family was something they had always wanted. Two months after their first son's arrival, however, Florence took her own life.
“We were married for two years," Chen told the Vancouver Sun. "We always wanted to have children and build a family. And everything was perfect, everything was bliss."
Their bliss ended when, on October 25th, 32-year-old Florence Leung was reported missing.
Even though Chen reported that they were very happy about their son's arrival, Florence, who was a registered nurse, was thought to be suffering from postpartum depression. The day after she was reported missing, her car was found, but the search for Florence didn't end for another 20 days. Her body was eventually found in the water near Bowen Island, according to the New Westminster Police Department.
On November 16, a statement was released on a Facebook page that was created to organize community efforts to locate Florence:
"It is with great sadness to tell everyone that Florence Leung has been found. Police notified husband Kim Chen and family earlier today of the discovery. We ask that everyone at the moment respect the family's privacy and we will release more details as they become available. We thank you all for your prayers, love and support at this very difficult time. #PrayForFlo"
In an official statement by the police department, it was stated that foul play was not to be blamed for Florence's death. The department also pleaded with readers to take advantage of the resources offered by the Canadian Mental Health Association if they, or anyone they know, is struggling with postpartum depression.
As many as 1 out of every 7 women will experience postpartum depression after having a child, and for half of these women, it will be their very first experience with depression. Perhaps this is why, when a seemingly "happy" mom like Florence Leung
It isn't always obvious or expected when a mom is depressed after the birth of her child. We have to be on guard to learn to watch for the signs in ourselves, in our spouses and our friends. It shouldn't be surprising or taboo to talk openly about maternal mental health any longer. If we know that depression happens and we know how to manage it—we shouldn't have to lose any more lives to this illness. No new mom should have to feel so alone and desperate and like there's no other way to escape.
So how do we stop losing lives to postpartum depression?
First, ask the new moms in your life how they're doing. Are they crying a lot, feeling worthless or having trouble sleeping? And if someone you know admits they are dealing with depression, make sure they are safe. If they are actively suicidal, take them to an emergency room right away. If they are depressed but not suicidal, encourage them to see their OB-GYN to talk about what can be done to get them back to feeling like their old self again.
If you or someone you know is dealing with postpartum depression, now is the time to be brave. Now is the time to ignore any feelings of embarrassment or fear and have the hard conversation. Now is the time to use extreme measures, if necessary, to make sure someone you love is safe.
Help is out there and you are not alone.
For more resources on postpartum depression, check out:
Photographs by: Family of Florence Leung