Aletha Meyer Pinnow was just 31 when she suicided.
To family and friends she was a “caring, genuine, vivacious, hilarious, and sparkly” young woman. Devastatingly, the positivity she exuded to others was invisible to herself, and on the 20th of February she took her own life.
Out of their pain and loss, her family has chosen not to turn a blind-eye to the disease which claimed their Aletha, but to cast light on the darkness of mental illness. Her obituary, penned by adoring sister Eleni and published in the Duluth News Tribune, reflects just that.
The opening line of Aletha’s obituary set the tone for what is a moving and powerful piece: “Aletha Meyer Pinnow, 31, of Duluth, formerly of Oswego and Chicago, Ill., died from depression and suicide on Feb. 20, 2016.”
Eleni has since discussed why she chose to be so honest in the tribute to her sister with The Washington Post.
“The most alone I have ever felt was standing on my front porch on a chilly February evening. My sister had taped a note to the front door that said “Eleni, if you’re the first one here don’t go in the basement. Just call 911. I don’t want you to see me like this. I love you! Love, Aletha.
“She put an identical sign on the back door. Even in the midst of consuming depression, Aletha tried to protect me from the full horror of her suicide…
“My loneliness and terror on the front porch was nothing compared to the absolute isolation that depression had imposed on my sister. I had to tell the truth.”
And because she lost her beautiful, glowing sister to an illness that robbed her of self-worth, Eleni decided to break that very pattern. She chose to shine light and truth into a very dark place.
Depression does not discriminate, watch Jessica Rowe discuss her battle with depression below (post continues after video).
Instead of dodging around the reality of her sister’s death, Eleni spoke of “the destructive silence and stigma surrounding mental illness and suicide”.