Father of St Albans suicide victim pens book about her life

Francesca Spelzini

Francesca Spelzini - Credit: Archant

The father of a teen who took her own life following mental health struggles hopes his book about her life will give hope to others struggling with similar conditions.

St Albans resident Paul Spelzini has penned a book about his daughter, Francesca Spelzini, who killed herself in 2009 after a battle with various mental health issues - including schizophrenia, which was never officially diagnosed.

The book, titled My Wonderful Fran, tells the story of Francesca’s battle with her mental health and the effect it had on those around.

She had just completed her A-Levels at St Albans Girls’ School when she took her own life in June 2009, but had a bright future ahead of her.

Her father began writing the book in 2012 as a way of recording all that Fran had achieved in her life and her many talents.

He said: “This book was an outlet for me. Rather than sitting there and thinking it was the end of the world, I thought ‘I can actually do something’.”

He added: “The book is not written like a medical text, it is not a textbook saying you should do this, you should do that, it’s written to say that mental health is a problem but there’s also some strong positives that can come out of it.

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“You can develop talents and abilities that a lot of other people don’t have - Einstein had Asperger’s, for example. It’s just about channelling it in the right direction, rather than doing something destructive.”

While many other families’ written accounts of their relative’s struggles with mental health conditions can be very sad, Paul said that he did not want the book to have this effect.

He went on: “This isn’t a depressing book to read, this is actually full of hope. I think that’s very important, to give people hope, not to crush their ambitions.

“If you say to someone with mental illness that there’s no future, then they’re just going to give up, that’s the worst thing you can do.”

The book documents Fran’s experience with Asperger’s and schizophrenia - detailing holidays and time spent with family over the years.

Paul said that Fran was very much into her music, owning a catalogue of ‘Indie’ CDs, and the book includes a discography of songs which relate to various parts of her life.

The book is available here.

Paul added that since Fran’s death, the family had been working with the charity Samaritans to raise money and spread awareness about mental health.

If you need support, or would like to find out more about the charity click here.