Our Story

10 DEC 2013

On the morning of 10 December 2013 I was downstairs of our house putting my shoes on to go to work.  It was about 6:30 AM.  This moment will forever haunt me!  As I was about to put my shoe on I heard a sound come from my beautiful wife that will forever be imprinted in my mind.  The scream that echoed throughout our house still resonates loudly.

My wife, Tina, walked into our 13 year old daughters room to wake her up for school as she did every morning.  On this morning everything was wrong.  Ciarra had her TV on.  This never happened before.  She wondered why but thought that our CJ must be feeling better as she was ill and did not go to school on that Monday, the day before.  Tina walked farther into the room and noticed that Ciarra’s bed was empty.  She thought that our daughter must be already getting dressed for school.  She was actually a bit happy that Ciarra was up and so motivated on that morning.

She then walked farther into the room and that is when I heard the piercing scream that will never leave me!  She found our beautiful 13 year old daughter had committed suicide at some point during the night.  I will forever wish that I was the one that opened that door that day and could protect my wife from this sight.

I ran back up the stairs and found what had happened.  I will not go into details about the way this happened.  Suffice it to say that no parent should ever have to witness what we did on that morning.  Our daughter was dead and we could not help her.  I tried until the police and emergency crews showed up.  I could not bring her back to us.

The next few hours are still a blur to me.  I know that there were many Polizei, (German Police), with us and many Red Cross and Doctors in and out.  I was followed every step by a Police Officer.  I am not sure if it was because they thought of me, or us, as a threat to ourselves or as suspects.  I can now understand both cases.  I did not care either way at that time.  Nor do I now.  They were there.  They were all very professional.  They cried with us.

We called the one person that could help us the most after the 112,(German version of 911), and my wife’s brother was soon there.  He is a career Police Officer and more important, that Godfather of our Ciarra.  He was as devastated as we were.  He also was our savior for the next few hours, days and weeks.

This day will forever be etched into our lives as the worst possible everything.  Ciarra Joi Rhodes was not a loser.  She was not a drug addict.  She was not a loner.  She was a very well respected young woman.  She had a family that loved her.  She had a circle of friends that loved her.  She was smart, funny, outgoing and overall happy.  She was not any of the stereotypes that suicide should fit.

I spent over 20 years in the U.S.Army.  I was trained to look for and notice signs of a suicidal person.  She did not withdraw from life.  She attacked it!  She did not give her prized possessions away.  She gave to charity and to people that needed things.  She was not angry and unhappy.  She was charitable and giving.  She was more than anything LOVED!

We do not have an answer as to why our baby girl decided to make this decision.  She did leave us a note that said, {translated from the German language},” Mama and Daddy I am sorry.  I love you.”   We can not be angry with our daughter.  We can not hate our daughter for doing this and making that decision.  We can only miss her.  We do!

It has been over six weeks since that day as I write this post.  Our lives have changed forever.  I hope that this will aid me to get my feelings out.  I hope this site will bring light to an epidemic that is sweeping this world.  That epidemic is TEEN SUICIDE.  I hope that if you are reading this it will help to remember a beautiful young woman that left us way to early.

Ciarra we love you baby.



About Dusty

I am the father of Ciarra Joi "CJ" Rhodes. I am the man blessed to have 13 and a half years with my beautiful daughter. I am also the survivor of her teenage suicide. I miss her every minute of every day! I hope this site will keep her memory alive and maybe help others.

30 thoughts on “Our Story

  1. I thank you for sharing this. While I have never experienced a loss as tragic as you and your family had, my heart hurts for your loss and I shed many tears reading this.

    • Thanks for all that you have done for my family in helping to get this site going. You are an amazing person and we will never be able to repay your kindness!

  2. missycates

    You both are amazing parents and you are correct she doesn’t fit any of the stereotypes regarding suicide. She grabbed life by the horns and did so much in her short 13 years. I hope this site can help you, Tina, our family and anyone struggling at this time! Please know you are not alone and anyone reading this is not alone. I love you Ciarra and think about you daily!

  3. Pat Rhodes

    I will never forget that day and the phone call saying that Ciarra is gone. Before long my house was filled with friends and family who wanted to be here to help. So many questions … How could this happen?? Why why why?? That whole day is a blur. Then we were making plans to travel from Ohio to Germany. That trip was long and very hard knowing the reason we were going there. But while there we learned how many people loved Ciarra and Joel and Martina. It was amazing to see how many people Ciarra touched in her short life. Then back to Ohio…Still with no answers to the questions but I have accepted that we will never have those answers. Some days I cry thinking of how much pain she had to be in and she had no answers. And some days I remember the happiness she brought. This up and down emotions continure for our whole family.
    I love you Ciarra and so thankful to have been your Grama

    • Mom I wish that you would have never received that call as I am sure that you do. Your support through this has helped so much, Thank you! We love you.

  4. Jeff Pataky

    I am so sorry for your loss of Ciarra. I didn’t know of this tragedy until this morning and read your post on FB. Words cannot express my sorrow for you and Tina and all who we’re lucky to be part of Ciarra’s life.
    I can hear my 12 year old daughter Molly in her bed room right now singing while she is making her bed (no school – snow day). Tears are freely flowing as I imagine her, or any of my other precious children being whisked away too early.
    Your honoring Ciarra and bringing needed attention for Teen Suicide through this site. Your a great man, a strong and courageous man, my old friend Joel.
    I pray that you, Tina and all who were blessed to be part of Ciarra’s life may find comfort as time passes. May Ciarra Rest In Peace.

    Sincerely, Jeff and Mary Pataky

    • Jeff,
      My wife and I thank you for your kind words. I am glad that you hear your singing daughter. We will keep fighting to overcome this. Thank you visiting this site!!

  5. Sondra Saylor

    In the midst of your grief, is it amazing that you have started this website to remember your daughter and bring attention to teen suicide. It is a horrible trend that needs to end. For a beautiful, loving, outgoing, fun girl to end her life with no reason is tragic and devastating to all who knew her and her family; unbearable for her parents, Joel and Tina. I will continue to pray for you both and your extended family for strength to get through each hour, each day… without such an integral part of your life. Know that you are loved and supported from afar from many. Ciarra lives on in your heart and soul, you carry her deeply, unconditionally, and naturally.

    • She will forever be with us. She will forever live in the hearts of so many people. I hope that we can reach some people with this website and maybe help. Thanks for taking the time to post and thank you for your kind words.

  6. Laura McQuiggan

    Dear Dusty, dear Martina
    I am very sorry for your loss ! I can not found the words to say what I really want to. Ciarra was such a good person. I liked the childhood with her, I liked playing with her and I liked the BBQ -Partys at yours ! I am very very sad about what happened. As I heard what happened some tears got through my face! All my prayers are with you ! Rest in peace Ciarra!

    Love Laura .

    • I am glad that you have good memories of Ciarra. Please remember her fondly! She enjoyed those times as well as we all did.

  7. Jimmy Mc

    For me, there are moments in life that will never be forgotten.
    Like 9/11, 12/10 will for ever be etched into my mind, as I was off work, sitting on my couch sick with the flu, when the phone rang at 11:06………ever since I had received that call, I have been asking myself, what made this so positive thinking and always cheerful loving child deciding to do what she thought was best for her…….she left behind a lot of us asking why……….wherever she is now, I would believe she is selling cup cakes for her charity work and helping others, like she did while still among us…….Ciarra, you will always be in our thoughts and hearts, and you will be so dearly missed………

  8. Her giving to others was so important to her. I can see her giving out those cupcakes as well my friend. I know that you ache with us. Together we will continue on. Together we will continue her legacy.

  9. Donald Ziermans

    Dusty and Tina,after hearing about this tragedy through Todd tears came to my eyes,and after reading your story today it wasnt any different.We all know,experience and read about losing people close to us,and so often those stories end with the words:always in our memories,and time will heal most wounds…
    Unfortunately there never is a guideline that tells you HOW to deal with the loss itself.Ofcourse family and friends are there for support and a listening ear,and i know that in your case it is an extensive group that is there when you guys need it.There have however been,and will be,many moments in which you are a sole person,just you and your thoughts,emotions and questions.I have had these moments in the past,and although they originated from totally different experiences,writing about it felt good.Paper(or a computer)doesn’t question you,it doesnt talk back when it shouldnt,and in the end it shows exactly
    what you thought,wondered and wrote down.I know that giving everything a place takes a long time,
    but i also know continuing writing will help the both of you in these horrible times.
    Wishing you and Tina all the best,
    Donald Ziermans

    • Thank you sir. We are hoping that this will help. We are hoping that this will help others..You are correct that there is not a right way to do things now. Everything seems wrong. We will continue trying to make her proud of us. Thank you for your words and your thoughts. They mean a lot to us.

  10. Linda Calderone

    Dear Dusty and Tina, I so wish I had the words to convey my sorrow for you in the loss of your most precious Daughter Cierra. I have never met you or your Daughter, but when Todd called and told me what had happened, I was so devastated for you. Todd told me what a precious child she was and how much he loved her and what great parents she had. I wish I had the answers as to why this happened, and I know everyone wishes this, but we don’t, so all I can say is hold on tight to each other and know that you were wonderful, awesome parents and Cierra loved you dearly as you loved her. You are still in my thoughts and prayers today and always. Love and God Bless Both of You Always.

  11. larry ruffo

    As a father i could not finish reading this without stopping to collect myself. Simply heartbreaking. My only regret is that I never got a chance to meet her. Hearing all the wonderful comments about her lets me know that a shining lite was taken from a world full of darkness….

    My heart goes our to you and your wife.

  12. Vesna Lorch

    Eure Trauer kann niemand fühlen, doch alle fühlen mit! Das ist eine sehr schöne Gedenkseite für eure Tochter Ciarra. Das kostet bestimmt eine Menge Kraft, ich hoffe es hilft euch Eltern.

  13. Dagmar Hechler

    Dear Dusty and Martina,
    it is 7 weeks to Ciarra’s suicide, it is still so incomprehensible and not available. I will never foget the moment when I received this bad news of my friend. You know I have a son of 13 years myself and wonder after that daily why and why. If I could, I would like to take you this burden a little and soothing the pain a little. It is well the most terrible, what one must experience as parents.
    My deep respect and idea to this side Dusty. I find really very good. The pictures of Ciarra are lovely.
    Ciarra will remain alive in the hearts of the people und remain unforgettable with this side. Parents who have same clesting surely find much comfort on this side.
    And this Side will you and Martina accompany you by the hard time.I hope the side gives you quite much strength.
    In my thougt I am with both of you and Ciarra, this one has left us far too early.
    (I hope the translation program has worked, because my english not so good is) sorry

  14. Tighe Barlem

    Hey guys. I hope everything is getting easier. I remember when I heard the news. It turned my day around completely. I was speechless! My wife’s car broke down on us, we had gotten in an argument, I was stuck in traffic as was the tow truck to pick up the car. I had just pulled into the gas station on post when I got the call. Suddenly all the things that I thought were bad became minuscule to the news I had just received. As I read and hear more about Ciarra the more I wish I would have gotten to know her and all of you. There are no words to express the pain I felt for you guys and that only pales in comparison to what you surely were and still are feeling.
    I want to repeat what I told you at the funeral because it is the only thing I can think of that might help from me: if you go to sleep at night and you dream of her, don’t wake up crying because she is gone. Wake up smiling because she came to see you.
    Be blessed!

  15. Jens

    With tears in my eyes i read your words. And i am really proud of you that you made this. It is good to remember, but life wants to go further and now i have a possibilty to stop, taking my personal break here. Something i can get in touch every time i want too. Just spend some time with her. Thank you for that. I love you! She made me the proudest godfather ever.

  16. Jerredy Pabst-Shriver

    Hi Dusty and Tina,

    We were never close but got to know eachother at a few Softball tournaments. I wanted to express my deepest and heartfelt sympathies to you and your family. I found this saying today in our local paper and thought it fit here on this Site :

    “Nicht die Jahre in unserem Leben zählen, sondern das Leben in unseren Jahren”

    English: The years in our life don’t count, what counts is the life in our years.

    God bless your whole family,

    Jerredy Pabst-Shriver

  17. Carrie

    What a heartbreaking story. I don’t know you or your family and it’s not easy for me to find the right words, but I had the need to leave a comment. Some people say there is a reason for everything in life and if God closes one door he opens another. I can not see any reason at all in the suicide of a teenager but I got the feeling you already took the first step toward that open door by creating this site. Your daughter must’ve been a very special person, always trying to help others, maybe even after her death. Because if other teenagers read this they might give it a second thought and decide not to go through with their plans of commiting suicide. I think it is amazing that after such a short period of time after your daughter died you are trying to help other people. I hope with time your pain will get less, your daughter would not want you to be sad.

    • Hello Carrie,
      I wanted to thank you for your comment. It is our hope that maybe at least one teenager will come across this site and change their mind about making a bad decision. We never want anyone to be in our shoes. Our daughter was an amazing and giving person. She changed the worlds of many people. We hope to keep her legacy of goodness going. Please feel free to share this site. Maybe you can help also!

  18. Carrie

    Your welcome Dusty, I certainly will share this site, our society needs to learn way more about this subject. So sorry this happened to you and your family.

  19. Aimee

    I found your story on your facebook page and have read it again here and it breaks my heart every time I read it. I can’t imagine the pain that you both feel from losing your daughter. Your daughter sounds like she was such a caring child with a huge heart and I am so sorry for your loss. I hope your story will reach others and maybe help them out.

  20. Manfred

    No more words possible after reading that!

    • Thank you for leaving your comment and taking the time to visit this site.

  21. Mira♡

    Hey Dusty and Martina,
    You know how much i love cj! Sie was My Best friend and as mrs Koch Said what happenend i think i can’t live Without her..
    I didn’t See you a long time and I hope i will See you in the next time.
    Thank you for all❤

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong> 

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.