by Beth Saadati
“Given the opportunity, Jenna wouldn’t make the same choice again. But she also wouldn’t want her death to be in vain. She would want us to learn from it so we can live as overcomers. As victors. Her letter and writings are a rare gift.” -Dr. David Cox, counselor
A 14-year-old daughter’s suicide note? A gift? My thoughts reeled the day after Jenna’s death as a few close friends, my husband, and I braced ourselves for the reading of the three-page letter police had discovered on her thumb drive.
In shock, I heard the false accusations that had snaked their way into Jenna’s mind. Since then, I’ve reread the letter a hundred times and silently answered seven of its lies.
Dear Family and Extended Family,
I’m really sorry for leaving you like this. Honestly I am. During the last few months of my life I was incredibly depressed. You just didn’t notice since I put up a good front most of the time.
You probably want to know why on earth I decided to do this. Well, for some reason, ever since I turned twelve I’ve realized something—I was always a loser. Sure, I had a few friends, but overall everyone either ignored me, thought I was stupid, or outright hated me.
Lie #1: I’m a loser.
You weren’t, Jenna. You were spectacular, as your science teacher said. Lots of people liked you. Many of them really liked you. It’s just that, when depression settled in, it blinded you from seeing who you truly were, tainted your perception of the way you thought your peers viewed you, and deceived you into thinking others didn’t care.
I don’t know what’s wrong with me to make me so unpopular. Yeah, I’m not pretty, but look at Eleanor Roosevelt, Dolly Madison, and some other girls I know. Nothing stops them from having happy lives.
Lie #2: I’m too unattractive or unpopular to be loved.
What teenage girl—or woman of any age—doesn’t struggle to feel like she measures up to the images that surround her? The truth is you were beautiful, even during those awkward early teen years. But even if you hadn’t been, your immeasurable worth has nothing to do with external beauty or any social-ladder rung.
Towards the end, I began to think that maybe I suffered from clinical depression. Well, maybe. So what could I do about it? Stay on Prozac all my life? Like that would work.