At first glance, Alexandra Valoras from Grafton, Massachusetts, seemed like a typical overachiever.
According to CBS News, the 17-year-old student earned high marks in her classes, held a position in student government, and excelled in extracurricular activities. But she had a secret life — a secret mental life.
Hidden behind the overachieving facade was a young woman tormented by doubt and self-loathing. No one, though, could tell it from the outside.
Indeed, her parents didn’t have a clue about the torment that swirled through their daughter’s mind until March 19. The Telegram & Gazette reported that Alexandra walked to an overpass that soared above the Massachusetts Turnpike and jumped off the edge.
Along with her jacket and shoes, she left a pen and two journals on the overpass on that fatal day.
Her parents, Dean and Alysia Valoras, were shocked by the contents of those journals. “There was just so much joy in everything she did, and it doesn’t match what was in that journal,” Alysia said.
Self-directed loathing and desperation filled some 200 pages. Messages such as “you are a burden” and “you are a failure” and “you are lazy” appeared time and again.
“It just doesn’t seem possible,” Dean stated. “But it’s what reality was, because it’s written right here.”
Death by suicide isn’t a problem confined solely to the Valoras family. According to the CDC, suicide is the second leading cause of death for individuals from the ages of 10 to 34.
Dean and Alysia hope that their public discussions about Alexandra’s death will help save other young souls. They’ve also participated in suicide-prevention walks, making their story known.
After one interview in an area paper, the couple discovered an anonymous note left on their doorstep. It read, “What you have said in Alexandra’s article truly changed my life, knowing that families are talking to their kids about their mental health.”
“[Alexandra’s] not here, but boy, she’s affected a lot of people,” Alysia said. And the family members have continued to work through their grief day by day.
“Life starts going back to a little bit like normal, but then it doesn’t,” she added. “Our relationship has changed. We’re a team, we’re working through. But man, it’s hard.”
If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741-741.
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