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The Youngstown Vindicator
December 10, 2007
CHAMPION Courtney and Violet Ann Brown didn’t decorate their home for Christmas for 13 years. They had lost the spirit.
It was Dec. 17, 1994, when the Browns’ daughter, 20-year-old Jennifer, put an end to her fight with depression by hanging herself at the old Woodside Receiving Hospital in Youngstown.
“Your life is forever changed,” said Brown, who is better known to his friends and family as Denny. “Everyone knows the elephant is in the closet,” he said, referring to his daughter’s death.
Although Jennifer died eight days before Christmas, her father doesn’t believe the holiday had anything to do with her decision.
Don Dickens, director of information/crisis services for Community Solutions in Warren, says the notion that there are more suicides during Christmas and New Year’s is simply a myth.
Dickens maintains that suicide during the holidays is sensationalized by the media. “From that, people make the wrong conclusion,” he said.
Jennifer had battled depression with medication and counseling. In her photographs, her father said, she looks as if she were a happy young woman.
For Jennifer, depression came in waves. During the summer before she committed suicide, she was at her parents’ State Road West home, and going through counseling.
It was then decided that she would be admitted to Woodside, where she was a patient for 38 days before her death.
Brown speculates that his daughter thought she might do something violent to someone else at home when released from Woodside. She would cut herself, he recalled, to transfer her pain from the brain to the cuts.
Brown said his daughter planned it.
For those who are contemplating suicide, the 72-year-old Brown said, don’t do it: It’s going to be tougher on the family than they realize.
The Browns celebrated Christmas with other family members, but not at home.
“We just lost the appetite for the holidays,” Brown said. “She had no desire,” he said about his wife’s feelings.
After his wife died in October 2005 after 32 years of marriage, Brown met his current wife, Devor. Holiday decorations now adorn the house.
Nationally there are fewer suicides in December and January, but they peak during the spring, Dickens explained. He said what people have to realize is that suicide is the 12th-highest reason for deaths in the U.S., but there are still only 30,000 annually.
Read the full story Monday in The Vindicator and on Vindy.com