Alexandra Valoras was a dream of an eldest child to her parents, Dean and Alysia Valoras. At 17, she was an accomplished high school junior, a robotics whiz, academic student leader and class officer. Outside, Alexandra was happy, and her parents describe her as “joyful.” So they were totally blindsided when on March 14, 2018, Alexandra made her bed, straightened her room, and left their Grafton, Massachusetts home, walking to a nearby overpass. That night, she jumped off the overpass and died by suicide.
In an article about Alexandra in the Boston Globe, writer Mark Arsenault deftly describes why her parents were so shocked by Alexandra’s suicide.
“They remember all the rewarding conversations they had this year with their bright and thoughtful daughter. They remember her belly laughing. Her excited talk about the future. Those parts of her seemed true.
They were on a road with no signs. They thought they had a happy kid.”
On the overpass where Alexandra took her life, her parents found two journals expressing the despair she had been hiding from everyone who loved her.
Alexandra’s journals were where she poured out her thoughts of self-loathing, writing “you are broken,” “you are a burden,” and “you are a failure.” Her already heartbroken parents were crushed even more as they read their daughter’s true thoughts and feelings that led her to take her own life by suicide.
In a final note to her parents the night she died, Alexandra writes: “Don’t blame yourself for not seeing warning signs. I hid for a reason. I didn’t want you to know how deep in my own mess I was. So it wasn’t anyone’s lack of perception.”
“A girl who seems to have it all, seemingly just hitting it out of the park, was nonetheless hurting and in pain, and we didn’t see,” her father told the Worcester Telegram.
Now, the Valoras’ are speaking out about Alexandra’s story to encourage other parents to talk to their teens about their mental health, even if they do not suspect that anything is wrong. Their daughter’s despair, Alysia Valoras told CBS, “doesn’t seem possible. But it’s what reality was. Because it’s written right here,” she said, referring to Alexandra’s words in her journals.
In an especially heartbreaking last sequence in her journal, Alexandra wrote “What will I miss by dying tonight?”
Her answer is equally heartbreaking. “The possibility of getting better.”
The timing of this article is not a coincidence; September is National Suicide Awareness Month, and teenage suicide is a bona fide epidemic in this country. It is the second leading cause of death for both males and females in this age group. Dean and Alysia and their two surviving children hope beyond hope that by speaking out about their pain and about Alexandra’s life and death that they can spare other families from going through the same trauma and perhaps save some lives.
I have to admit, reading Alexandra’s story made me want to get in my car and drive to my son’s high school, pull him out of class and ask him if he had ever thought about taking his own life or hurting himself. Like the Valoras’, I think I know my child well. He seems happy and well-adjusted, and he is successful in school. He has wonderful friends and he lives in a home where he is safe, loved and cherished. But for Alexandra, it wasn’t enough. And now I find myself needing to know if it is enough for my child as well.
My son and I will be having a conversation tonight.
The Valoras’ say that this type of conversation is exactly what they hope to inspire by sharing their painful story.
Moms and dads, even if you have no reason to suspect that your child is having suicidal thoughts, please talk to them. Please. Do it so that you will not have to experience the pain that Dean and Alysia did when they followed the GPS tracking from Alexandra’s phone and found their daughter, cold, at the bottom of an overpass.
Your life is precious. Please stay.