Remembering Carlie: Bismarck family hopes their loss might inspire conversations about mental health and suicide

Published: May. 24, 2023 at 2:51 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Suicide is a difficult thing to understand. It’s also something that isn’t talked about enough.

Yet every year, suicide is a leading cause of death in the United States.

Mental health conditions are just one of many risk factors for suicide. But there is a stigma that keeps people from talking about their struggles.

One Bismarck family hopes by talking about the loss of their loved one to suicide, they might save another person’s life.

In home videos and photos, Carlie Malm’s life looked picture perfect.

“She had a wonderful life,” said her dad, Carl Buechler.

There are photos of her high school state championship basketball team.

“She was number 23,” her dad said as he pointed her out in a photo.

“She was always in the center,” added her mom, Gayla.

There are photos of her family, including her husband and young son.

“She loved her family so much,” said her dad.

There are pictures taken after half marathons.

“I beat her by five or six minutes. So, I had bragging rights,” laughed her husband, Ryan Malm.

And pictures of Carlie refereeing high school basketball with her dad.

“She made me better,” said Carl. “We did that for 11 years.”

What the pictures don’t show is Carlie’s struggle with mental health.

“If that illness can happen to Carlie, it can happen to anybody,” said Carl.

Carlie lost her battle. She died by suicide in February.

“Nobody is really immune from it,” said Ryan.

Her family, friends and colleagues are still healing,

“This hurt will get better in time,” said Carl.

“Through pain, we need to find purpose,” said Dr. Elizabeth Seifert, assistant professor in the occupational therapy program at the University of Mary and one of Carlie’s oldest friends.

The purpose they’ve found: to share Carlie’s story and hopefully save a life.

“She would want us to raise awareness about the illness and encouraging others to seek out treatment and trying to help yourself,” said Ryan.

“Please, if you’re having trouble, get some help before it’s too late,” added Carl.

And so, while they share Carlie’s story, they’ll hold on a little tighter to these photos and to their memories. And they’ll pray their pain is something no other family will ever have to endure.

A 5K memorial fun walk/run will be held Saturday, June 17 in Carlie’s memory.

A scholarship has also been established in her name. It’s the first occupational therapy scholarship ever given at the University of Mary. Two recipients will be selected each year.

Click here to register, donate and learn more about the scholarship and race.

Carlie’s family hopes the race will help get the conversation started about mental health and suicide, which is all too common in North Dakota. The CDC says 156 North Dakotas died by suicide in 2021.

Help is available. If you are in crisis, please call, text or chat with the Suicide Crisis Lifeline at 988. You can also contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.