Even from her earliest childhood memories, Jessica recalls that she had always been the complete opposite of her brother, John (pseudonym). Whereas she had always been bubbly, enthusiastic and eager to interact with others, John had always preferred to keep to himself. Despite their differences, Jessica considered John to be her closest childhood friend. During our interview, Jessica recounted the life of her brother. According to Jessica, John had always been a bit different. John didn’t speak until the age of three, and faced further conflicts as soon as he began school. He was extremely introverted and struggled to make meaningful connections with others. By the time he had reached high school, John had very few friends and faced constant bullying. Not only was John bullied by his own peer group, he also faced severe adversity at home. Jessica describes their father as a bully who would take every opportunity to make John feel inadequate. In order to protect himself, John began to seek isolation. He would spend days at a time isolated in his bedroom. Although Jessica was sure John was suffering from depression, he refused to discuss his issues when she tried to reach out to him.
When John reached adulthood, it seemed as if the worst of his troubles were over. John fell in love and got married. Soon afterwards, he welcomed his first son into the world. Everything seemed on track for the time being, and he seemed extremely happy. However, this peaceful time in John’s life did not last long. Problems developed in his marriage; alcohol played a major role and conflict became a daily occurrence. John’s wife eventually left him, and took their son with her. John was alone once more and slipped further into depression. Jessica recalls that her family knew that John had been struggling during this time, but was unaware of the severity of his depression. At this point, he had completely isolated himself from everyone who cared about him. After spending several months in isolation, John took his own life. He was twenty-seven years old.
Although John passed away over ten years ago, his family will never be the same. Jessica’s mother and other family members seek peace through support groups. Jessica prefers a more hands-on approach. She now serves on CHAS Young Professionals Board, where she helps to organize fundraisers for suicide awareness. Jessica states that although it cannot bring her brother back, she finds “solace and healing through action,” where she has the opportunity to help others in similar situations.