I wanted to post this latest review of my book by Dr Ralph Caruana who once taught at Wake med where Kaitlyn went to med school. He makes many good points, especially about med students.
An American Tragedy, August 20, 2014
By Ralph Caruana, M.D. – My Bright Shining Star: A Mother’s True Story of Brilliance, Love and Suicide (Paperback)
This is a beautifully written book about the ultimate family tragedy: the suicide of a young person, who was loved, full of promise and seemingly without any dark clouds hovering over her. I approached this story from many angles: as a parent, as a medical educator and as a former resident and faculty member at the medical school Kaitlyn attended. Sad to say this is by no means the first time that I have heard such a story and in fact I have watched this scenario unfold several times during my long career in academic medicine at three medical schools. Medical trainees are at much higher risk for depression and its sequelae than are other similarly aged demographic groups but this is not a book about the stresses of medical training or a call for educational reform. This is a book about experiencing loss, understanding loss and trying to work through loss.
Kaitlyn’s life history did not put up any red flags suggesting that she could be suffering from depression. Her mother and father are highly sensitive, involved parents who had maintained excellent communication channels with their daughter. They had enough education and life experiences to be aware that depression exists in young people and that it can be a very serious matter. Kaitlyn never communicated to them or anyone else that she was suffering from depression yet the note she left behind makes it clear that depression prompted her actions. Kaitlyn’s high achievement, high energy, loving family relationships and buoyant personality did not suggest to anyone that she was “at risk”.
This book chronicles a family’s experience of living through a devastating loss. The grief, the sense of emptiness and the endless search for answers that never materialize are eloquently put before the reader. Besides telling her story Rhonda Elkins issues a call for awareness and action that could better identify depression in the young and provide the opportunity for effective, early treatment. This book is essential reading for parents, educators and those in the caring professions who work with adolescents and young adults.