“Love is all you need,” reads the memorial plaque beneath an Amur Cherry tree in a park in Edmonton, Canada. The tree was planted for Hillary Rose Werthmann, an affectionate 20-year old who would give hugs just because, and would often tell her family and friends how much she loved them. Yet despite the love around her, Hillary struggled within herself, and on May 8, 2003 she passed away in her living room, after overdosing on pills.
Hillary’s father, Bill, had visited her apartment earlier in the day after receiving a phone call from a worried ex-boyfriend. Hillary was exhausted, barely having slept the night before. Bill visited for over an hour, helping with her resume and cover letters for some job postings that had piqued her interest. Before leaving, Hillary assured Bill that she was ok. So, reluctantly, he left.
The next time Bill was in the apartment, the job applications were completed, waiting in stamped addressed envelopes, ready to mail. But Hillary was gone.
Hillary first talked about seeking help for mental health issues that March, two-months before her death. She saw at least two different experts, and was prescribed anti-depressants, yet on the outside, she was the same Hillary. The same Hillary that would speak out against injustices, make her classmates laugh, and fuel arguments between her three older siblings. No one realised how troubled she was.
Funny, beautiful and smart, Hillary left everyone who knew her wondering what might have been, and if there was anything they could have done to save her. Consolation comes from the love that Hillary shared, and the love of her friends and family today.
Her memorial plaque says it best: “Love is all you need.”
Hillary As A Number:
Hillary was 1 of the 3,765 Canadians who died of suicide in 2003.
In the age bracket 15-24, she was just 1 of the 522 suicides.
That’s 22.7% of the deaths in the age range 15-24, caused by suicide.
Suicide is the second most common cause of death, after accidents, for 15-24 year olds in Canada.
The numbers aren’t significantly changing.
We need to break the silence on suicide.
Source: Statistics Canada
(Comparison: 463 deaths or 21.5% of 15-24 year-olds died of suicide in Canada in 2008 (most recent figures))