Let me tell you the story about my beautiful daughter, Brittney Rose Serpa. Britt, as we affectionately called her, was so full of life. She was a beautiful, young, happy, social butterfly. She had a passion for health and a love for people. She always entered the room singing Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” at the top of her lungs, and I mean, at the very top of her lungs! Her father used to tell her that she would be an American Idol someday. The only problem was, she really couldn’t sing, and she knew that, but it didn’t bother her. The thing is, nothing seemed to be able to dampen the spirit of Britt Rose.
Britt’s love for people was always very apparent. She had loads of friends, including those who didn’t fit in. When she saw someone being bullied or teased, she rallied to their side by sitting with them at lunch, inviting them to our house after school, or including them in social activities even if her friends didn’t care for those she was helping.
When Britt was twelve years old, we noticed a drastic change in her behavior. We took her to numerous doctors and were given every diagnosis in the book. We sometimes questioned whether this change really was just typical pre-adolescent behavior; but it never felt right to us.
At age fifteen, we enrolled Britt in a therapeutic boarding school in hopes she could get help with her emotional struggles. She did very well at the school, but then fell into the same emotional struggles and behaviors when she returned home.
In 2012, we took Britt to the Cleveland Clinic to see Dr. Joseph Calabrese, a world renowned psychiatrist. Dr. Calabrese specializes in mood disorders and diagnosed Britt with bipolar disorder with rapid cycling. It all started to make sense! We finally had a name for her behavior and a doctor who could help. While this gave us so much peace, we were still dealing with a fragile young girl who was on top of the world one week and sleeping her days away the next.
In the spring of 2012, Britt was ready to graduate from high school one year early and begin college at Ole Miss in the fall. She was over the moon about going to Ole Miss and was already making plans for sorority rush, roommates and, most importantly, being at the same college as her big brother, Blake.
What happened next was something we never fathomed. Britt, our precious daughter, became the victim of online bullying. A complete stranger first contacted Britt on Monday, and by Thursday, she was gone. Britt committed suicide. It’s hard to understand how someone who appeared to have it all could be hurting so badly on the inside.
It has taken me three years to come out of the fog and for the numbness to subside a bit. I never dreamed of being a voice and advocate for suicide prevention, anti bullying, and mental health awareness. But through this tragedy, the Brit Rose Foundation and shopbritrose.com have been born to help raise funds and awareness for families who are struggling with mental health issues, but can’t afford the help needed. The money will also go toward funding programs for education about mental illness and bullying.
My hope is that soon, as a society, we will have more understanding, compassion and awareness for those struggling with mental illness, especially young children.
My personal goal is to start an organization similar to MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) for bullying. Bullies often continue to do what they do because there are no consequences.
Brit loved to shop! So, shop shopbritrose.com and #shoptoshine to help those struggling with mental illness or those who need help because they are victims of bullying.
The Brit Rose Foundation is a family run nonprofit organization whose mission is to bring awareness on suicide prevention, mental illness and bullying. Did you know 1 in 5 people in the US suffer from a diagnosable, treatable mental illness? Yet nearly two-thirds of those suffering will get little to no treatment. No other disease claims more lives than mental illness. Our mission is to change that. The funds raised will go directly to several organizations. i.e., The Grant Halliburton Foundation, AASP-American Association for Suicide Prevention and NAMI -National Association for Mental Illness.
Brit Rose www.shopbritrose.com is a boutique style clothing site designed to be fun! Your purchase will help the many families who struggle with suicide, mental illness and bullying through educational programs. My family lost a huge part of our hearts on April 5th 2012. One way to help us move forward is to help others whose families are struggling with what we have gone through. So together with my husband Roy, and my Cousins Betsy, Dustin, Brooke, my Aunt Sheryl and my nieces Kennedy and Karlie, Brit Rose has come to life!
It’s about Help
It’s about Hope
It’s about Peace of Mind