When Jenetta Barry’s daughter, Jenny, tragically took her own life two weeks after her 16th birthday, and just 15 minutes after they had an argument, Jenetta’s world shattered into pieces. The road leading up to this devastating event had been marked by trauma, seeking solutions, and trying to protect her daughter from herself. While overwhelmed with grief and emotional pain, a small part of Jenetta was relieved that Jenny’s suffering had come to an end, a sentiment shared by many carers in similar situations.
Jenetta’s life was rich with music, media, and stage excitement. Brought up in Kenya by UK-born parents, her mother graced the West End stage, while her father thrived as an impresario and owned a successful record label. Jenetta was a competent ballet dancer, actress, and singer, following in her parents’ artistic footsteps. However, her idyllic upbringing was marred by a dark secret: she had been sexually abused by a family member when she was just 7 years old, a secret kept within the family.
Years later, when Jenny was born, Jenetta had moved back to Kenya. Jenny grew into an attractive, bubbly, and popular girl, seemingly an extrovert. But internally, Jenny battled feelings of being unliked, unwanted, unneeded, and misunderstood, struggling with mental health issues and depression. Eventually, she became an acting-out teenager who required constant supervision and was eventually sectioned for her own safety.
The tragic day Jenny took her life marked the beginning of Jenetta’s soul-searching journey to change the world. To honor her daughter’s memory and promote conversations about depression, suicide, and their solutions, Jenetta founded “World Jenny’s Day,” held annually tonight on October 10th, World Mental Health Day. The initiative utilizes performing arts and other creative forms to normalize these vital conversations. Each year, a 24-Hour Performing Arts Marathon with a red carpet Celebrity Gala Evening tomorrow, supported by UK’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, is held at the Millennium Gloucester Hotel in Central London, featuring international celebrities performing and attending.
On August 20th, Jenetta organised, for the second year, a 6-day Kilimanjaro to Kenyan coast cycling fundraiser. Participants, including Karen Darke MBE, a British Paralympian hand cyclist, will travel through and stay in some of Africa’s most exotic lodges and camps. The journey continues as an additional team of physically diverse individuals takes on the “Sea to Summit” challenge, summiting Mt. Kilimanjaro with Karen Darke MBE using her handbike.
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