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Santa Cruz Sentinel
Jesse Sanderson Thomas was a willowy 23-year-old with long, dark hair who dreamed of living in Paris as a photographer someday.
She was a fashionable, creative woman who had just graduated from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver and was waiting tables in San Francisco while starting her photography career.
Last year, on March 4, her body was discovered in her apartment.
She had committed suicide.
Now her family, including 47-year-old Karen Sanderson and Karen’s 17-year-old daughter Elena Rossman of Soquel, are about to undertake a 20-mile walk to not only shed light on suicide and depression but raise funds to provide research and support on the problem.
At dusk on July 22, Karen and Elena will set off with eight other family members on a walk through the night as part of The Overnight Walk sponsored by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. So far, the family has raised $13,000 for the cause, but would like to collect even more.
“One of the points of the walk is to get people who have gone through this to talk about it,” said Karen, who said she was surprised by the number of people who told her their own stories of being affected by suicide after it touched her own life with the death of her beloved niece.
“It is,” she said of suicide, “the No. 2 cause of death in young adults.”
Her niece, she said, was a beautiful young woman whose death puzzled everyone who knew her. There was no note, no clue. It was only later, she said, that the family discovered her niece had started taking antidepressants, then stopped and started again without a doctor’s supervision. Some antidepressants, she discovered, can lead to suicide in young people.
“She always looked like the best-dressed person there. You could tell she was artistic, because the way she dressed was so creative,” said Elena of her cousin. “She was really sensitive, open and easy to talk to.
“I always just wanted to be like her because she was so cool.”
If you’d like to help the Sanderson family and this good cause, you can visit www.theovernight.org and make a donation to Team Jesse.