This is my beautiful daughter. Born 4-17-86 died 3-10-15. Her death certificate says she died by a gun shot wound. That’s only part of the truth. That doesn’t explain the real cause which is Mental Illness, more specific Depression and Bipolar disorder.
Jessica was in The top 20 of her high school class, 2004. She was in sideline cheer as well as the competitive cheer team, she ran track and had 3 amazing friends. She also had a little brother, Clayton who was 14 years younger than her but they were great friends.
She was far from perfect, I know she smoked and I know she tried some drugs and drinking but she kept up her grades and was very responsible. After high school she attended Aquinas College and graduated in 2008. Soon after she was working at Pine Rest Hospital at the north east clinic as an administrative secretary. She was also a personal assistant to one of the doctors for a year. She loved that so much.
People come and go in that office and at some point her supervisor and office manager were new. (I’m not sure if that was their exact title but it’s pretty close). These two supervisors were not nice to Jes, they liked to push her buttons. Jes was a perfectionist, everything needed to be done exactly right and she would really take it to heart if she was told that things were not right. She tried and tried to be and do everything they expected from her. The younger of the two was always threatening Jessica. They both new she had some anxieties and they played on them every chance they could. Basically the office manager would say she would be written up or fired if it was done wrong. Lots of pressure put on Jessica and the work load was getting to a point she felt they were setting her up to fail.
January 31, 2014 I received a call from the supervisor telling me I had to pick Jessica up from work. She had a break down at work and needed to go to the emergency room. So I picked her up at work and drove her to the ER. This is where it got real for me. I learned my daughters “happy thoughts” were of death. She had been self harming herself and she wanted to die. After a few tests at the hospital they released her to me with the understanding that I take her directly to Forest View Mental Hospital. We drove there and checked in. I sat quietly and listened to all the questions and answers from the intake person and my daughter. This all got so real so fast.
She was admitted and stayed in the hospital for about 2 weeks. Her family and friends visited her every chance we could. She somehow managed to get special “visits” from me. I have no idea how but they allowed her visits from me anytime she needed me. She was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder and depression, anxiety issues and thyroid issues. She went to out patient therapy for a week and then continued seeing a counselor and psychiatrist until she ended her life.
Pine Rest called her, well, actually it was her 2 bosses I spoke of earlier and asked for a meeting. The day, 3-11-14, at this time she was on FMLA or maybe short term disability. She thought that she was going in to find out when she could go back to work. To her surprise, they fired her at that meeting and they dated the firing back to January 31, when she had her break down. They also told all the staff at the NE clinic to break ties with Jessica or risk losing their own jobs. This was the proverbial straw that broke the camels back. She signed the papers she was asked to sign and walked out of the office. She went home and called me. By the time I arrived she had cut herself. It wasn’t deep, she wasn’t trying to take her life. I asked her why she did this and she told me it made her feel better inside.
We called Forest view and took her back to the hospital. Only this time she was unemployed and she thought there was no insurance. Of course, the hospital needed to know they would get their money. We worked that all out and she stayed just a few more days and was released. They taught her coping skills and she was doing pretty good on all the medications she was on. During this time she kept a journal. Of course, we didnt know this until later.
Trying to find a job after a breakdown was difficult. Doors were slammed in her face and the growing feeling of not being good enough played a toll on her. Her savings account was dwindling and she was stressed about losing her apartment. She spent months and months applying and interviewing. She spent almost every evening with myself, her dad and her brother. We knew things were hard but thought as long as she was still seeing us every night we could help her get through all of this. She even did a job shadow at a local hospital which looked very promising. We think that she would have gotten that job, as the person who interviewed her called just a day to late. He left a message on her cell phone 3-11-15, the day after she took her life.
On March 9, 2015 Jessica came to our house and we all had dinner together. After dinner, Jes and I put a jigsaw puzzle together. We finished one and started a new puzzle that she picked out. I even made the comment “really. That’s a hard one, it’s going to take forever!” She explained that she liked that one it was pretty. So we started on this new puzzle. Little did I know about 9 hours before this she had gone to a store and purchased a handgun. About 10:30pm I got really tired. We took care of the puzzle table and she left. That was the last time I would see my daughter alive. She drove home, she parked her car in Her carport, she entered her apartment, hung up her coat, placed her laptop and phone on her bed with sticky notes on them with the passwords written down and placed her journal on her bed. She wrote me one last letter saying “I’m sorry Mom, I love you.” There was more written but for now this is all I can share. She shut her bedroom door, to keep her beloved cat Desire’ out of the room and she silently ended the pain she had been tortured with for exactly one year. 3-10-15.
I tried texting her all day and when she didn’t answer I finally headed over to her apartment where I found her in her bedroom laying on the floor.
Her story isn’t over; we will continue to speak her name and tell her story. We will break down those walls of stigma about suicide and mental illness. We found this card in her car a few days later, it’s her mission in her own hand writing. We will continue her mission for as long as we can.