Why Did She Jump : My Daughter’s Battle with Bipolar Disorder
by Joan E. Childs, LCSW
HCI Books
ISBN 9780757316975


There is one day in Joan Child’s life that she wishes she could do over: the day her daughter Pam, a brilliant psychotherapist, plunged from a fifteen-story building to her death. But despite the coroner’s report of a suicide, Childs explains why her daughter’s life was taken by the most unforgiving of executioners: bipolar disorder. It was the delusions, not her daughter, who made the final decision.

Why Did She Jump? is an intimate, uncompromising delve into one mother’s search for peace amid the chaos surrounding her daughter’s tragic death, and a masterful recounting of the events leading up to the fateful day, lifting the veil of shame and secrecy to forge a path to understand bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses.

Ironically, both Pam and Joan were noted psychotherapists, and yet, even with their credentials and medical knowledge, Pam still could not be saved. In heartrending prose, Joan recounts the vivid memories of Pam’s life—the extreme highs and lows; the many red flags that were missed by well-meaning parents and overburdened medical systems; how her daughter toggled both worlds as a brilliant therapist who healed unreachable patients as she was unraveling herself; and how she fooled everyone into thinking she was stable.

why did she jump

The author

Joan E. Childs has been a licensed clinical social worker since 1978 specializing in change work for human potentiality, personal growth and self actualization. She was chosen to be the first affiliate of the John Bradshaw Center in the United States and is a consultant to many corporations, hospitals, universities and academic institutions. As a resource program presenter specializing in women’s issues, couple and family relationships and personal effectiveness, she has appeared on many radio and television shows and before live audiences. She is the author of The Myth of the Maiden: On Being A Woman which was published by Health Communications and released in July, 1995. Ms. Childs is a Certified Hypnotherapist, EMDR (eye-movement and desensitization processing) specialist, Master level Neuro-linguistic Programmer, Diplomat of Clinical Social Work and Pairs Leader.

My review  [rating=4]

Losing your child is a terrible tragedy. Having your daughter choose to take their own life is even worse. Imagine then, if you are a trained psychotherapist and your daughter too is one – and yet you and she are unable to stem the tide of bipolar disorder that takes hold of your daughter’s mind. Eventually, the author’s daughter, Pam took her own life, unable to find her way out of the clutches of this dark mental illness. Tragic, doesn’t begin to describe this.

I marvel at the way Joan Childs channelised her pain to share her journey of healing with the world. Her honesty and insight comes through as she reveals how she coped with Pam’s death both as a mother and a professional. Not allowing the terrible grief that threatened to consume her and her family, the author found a way to forgive herself and her daughter. This brought healing to the family and finally, she was able to let go.

This book will makes for a cathartic read for all who have lost someone so tragically.

I received this book from the published via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


Pam’s struggle with her demons had been going on much longer than any of her family, friends, or coworkers realized. Fearing we would make judgments, she suffered mostly in silence because she knew that we would have difficulty accepting and understanding her belief system. As a trained clinical psychologist, Pam knew how preposterous her belief system sounded to others, not unlike some psychotic patients she treated and often referred to psychiatrists for medication.

When she did share her thoughts and beliefs with us, all we could do was try to reason with her, hoping to bring her back to her senses by alleviating her fears. We tried to be sympathetic and supportive, but none of us could fight the demonic force that resided in her mind, dictating the course of her events. Nor could her psychiatrists, numerous psychologists, colleagues, friends, rabbis, priests (both Christian and Muslim), and spiritual healers, including channel psychics, shamans, a Qigong master, as well as a series of fortune-tellers, psychics, and demon chasers in addition to a multitude of psychotropic medications. The demons grew larger in time—invading her dreams, convoluting her thoughts, and sucking her spirit out of her body like a vampire devouring its victim’s life force. This is why I know suicide was not her conscious choice. Rather, it was the manipulation and delusionary demand of the demons that possessed her mind and sentenced her to death. Her destiny was no longer her own. She fell into a trance reinforced by the hallucinations of her psychosis. Like the mythological Persephone (daughter of the Greek goddess Demeter), Pam, too, was abducted into the abyss, but for Pam it was forever.

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