Elizabeth Gini said that her son, who along with his twin starred on Everybody Loves Raymond as the family's own twins, showed signs of a mental breakdown in the weeks before he took his own life — but no one thought he would kill himself.
"I know there were signs that were missed until after the fact," she told People. "I saw him saying things that were delusional and didn't make sense.
"There were things that I didn't see because I didn't live with him," she revealed. "He told a family member that he felt like he didn't exist. He already felt like he had no existence. So, to him, death was an escape from that feeling."
When told by family members that what he was saying "wasn't true," Gini says her son responded, "I know it's not true but I can't make my head stop saying it."
"He could not control the thoughts in his brain or get them to stop," she said. "It was like being on a runaway train. He had no control over it. That's something that is very scary."
Now the family is left to pick up the pieces, and it is exceedingly difficult.
"I've always been very patient, but I've found that I've been a little more patient with some of their behaviors because I know that it could be a reaction to what everyone is going through," Gini said of Sweeten's siblings.
"[Oldest sister Maya] is really struggling with insomnia and panic attacks. And she's struggling with her own sadness of her last — which is not her last memory but she feels like it is," she revealed.
"[Sawyer] came over to the house crying about two weeks before he died. She said she struggles with that memory because it is so prevalent and she wants the more fun things to come back into her head."
Saddest of all, Gini has had to explain to her other children what happened while struggling with her own grief. "I knew if I tried to sugarcoat it, it would eventually catch up with us," she said. "I haven't ever gone into the details of what happens to you when you pass, as far as the actual event itself, but they know how he died and that he's gone and that they're not going to see him again."
We wish this family peace as they move through their grief.
If you suspect someone might be considering suicide, or if you have struggled with those thoughts yourself, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
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