Excerpt from Book:

It is said that at one profound moment, we all face our own mortality and look death in the eye. But the death that Charlotte “Charley” Bednarsh saw one frigid January night was not her own. The terrified, anguished look that met her gaze was in the eyes of her ten-year-old son.

As he stood on the slate-shingled roof of their cozy Colonial home, teetering precariously on its edge and threatening to jump, her heart stopped.

“How did this happen?” she agonized. “Why does my beautiful, sandy-haired son want so desperately to die?” She wondered what kind of merciless demons had invaded his still-developing mind, seized the health from his tender psyche, and taken control of him so completely that reason – and love – were no longer enough.

She had no answers.

On that bone-chilling evening, the doors shut tight against January’s icy air, her sons – Jonathan, twelve, and Jeremy, ten – were quietly watching TV in their flannel pajamas. Nothing seemed remarkably out of kilter when, all at once, Jeremy bolted upstairs. Charley paid scant attention, so accustomed was she to his limited attention span and his constant search for new and absorbing activities.

But suddenly, what had seemed to be a tranquil evening was pierced by a bloodcurdling shriek.

“Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, help me, help me!”

Jeremy’s outbursts were familiar to Charley. Even before he could speak, he would hurl himself against the bars of his crib or hit his head repeatedly on the floor. As he got older, he screamed out in frustration or anger with increasing and alarming frequency, flailing his arms at some imaginary target, destroying his toys and the household furniture or dissolving into uncontrollable tears.

As Charley raced up the stairs, she expected to find her young son trapped once again in some disconcerting situation – a toy that wouldn’t work, a drawer that wouldn’t open – and she knew that he might be curled up in the fetal position, which he often adopted when he felt stymied by even ordinary situations.

Flying through his bedroom door, she felt a biting gust of wind that whipped across her face and coiled insidiously into every cell of her body as she realized, with stunned horror, that Jeremy was on the roof. Framed by the baseball-motif curtains wafting eerily in the frigid breeze was the opened window, a sight she would never forget.

Except for one sympathetic neighbor who had, on numerous occasions before this terrifying evening, called her at work to say that Jeremy had eluded the watchful eyes of his babysitter and climbed out onto the roof, Charley’s problems had all been “behind closed doors.” She had become all too familiar with the meaning of that insinuating expression and its allusion to the deep, dark secrets of people who barricade themselves against the grimmer aspects of their lives and against the harsh glare of public scrutiny.

“Mommy, mommy, mommy, I’m going to kill myself! I want to kill myself!” Jeremy yowled plaintively into the night air.



I just finished reading "Mommy, I Want To Kill Myself" and it was so riveting that I sat there with my heart pounding in my chest. The mother in this story deserves a Congressional medal, as does the older brother of Jeremy, because he could have used any number of excuses, like neglect, jealousy, etc., for becoming dysfunctional himself, which he didn’t.. But it was Jeremy, who suffered so deeply with bipolar disorder, who is truly an example of God's hand in placing angels at strategic places and times. Jeremy was meant to survive, and he helped himself! A lesser soul would have perished, even with guardian angels all around him. Unfortunately, much more needs to be done about mental illness, but if one child can be saved, as Jeremy was, the struggle is worth it.

Ercille Christmas, author of “Thoughts of A Proud American” (www.authorhouse.com)



I thought I was going to look through Joan Swirsky's book for a few minutes, but a few minutes became two hours. I couldn’t put it down. It reads like a suspense novel, full of the tragedy – and also triumph – that one only finds in real life, a story told with compelling drama and heart-wrenching imagery that proves the old adage that life is not for sissies. An amazing story!


Lyle Rossiter, M.D., psychiatrist and author of The Liberal Mind: The Psychological Causes of Political Madness (Free World Books, 2006)




As parents, we feel guilty for any unhappiness in our children’s lives. But Joan Swirsky’s book should make every parent, pediatrician, and psychiatrist take a second look at young children whose behavior is deviant from an early age and rethink their preconceived notions. No doctor wants to medicate a child, but as “Mommy” points out, in some cases it can be both appropriate and life changing.


Eric Gould, M.D., New York pediatrician and specialist in pediatric developmental issues




Joan Swirsky’s book is a riveting account of how one mother helped her young son, who was eventually diagnosed with bipolar disorder, find healing and peace despite the antagonism of many “helping professionals” who were better at blaming the mother than helping the child.  A must read for parents and concerned professionals alike.


George Lynn, author of “Survival Strategies for Parenting Children with Bipolar Disorder"




Mommy, I Want to Kill Myself is a poignant account of a mother's journey into her young son's suicidal mind. It examines the guilt, aching sorrow, and desperation faced by a loving mother turned advocate. It is a beautifully told story that, unfortunately, I, and many other moms, know only too well from the inside out. 


Judith S. Lederman, author of “The Ups & Downs of Raising a Bipolar Child: A Survival Guide for Parents”




Among the most devastated people in my practice are parents whose children are not just unhappy, but deeply disturbed. Joan Swirsky’s can’t-put-down book has illuminated the plight of children with mental illness, which – in too many cases – has more to do with aberrant genes than bad parenting. This book is an invaluable resource for all parents who battle “the system” every day to save their children’s lives.


Judith Ehrenfeld, Ph.D., R.N., C.S.