Man With Spinal Muscular Atrophy Begs Girl, 14, With Same Disease Not to End Her Life
Thousands are begging a Wisconsin teen with a painful disorder to reconsider ending her life at summer's end, but one man has taken the issue personally since he, too, is living with the disease.
Struck by the story of Jerika Bolen, who suffers from spinal muscular atrophy type 2, 23-year-old Jordan Schroeter, of Grafton, Wisconsin, is begging the 14-year-old to have a change of heart.
"Jerika, if you're watching this — please don't do this. Please reconsider your decision," Schroeter says in a video plea that has since gone viral. "Jerika, you have so much left to give. You are a woman of worth. You are a woman of value, and now is not the time to leave this world."
The video titled "A Message to Jerika Bolen" has garnered more than 40,000 views on Facebook since it was posted only days ago.
"I want her to really cherish the value," Schroeter told InsideEdition.com. "I want her to learn even in the midst of all the pain and suffering, we can still live a treasurable life."
Despite the rapid popularity of his message, Jen Bolen, Jerika's mom, told InsideEdition.com: "This video was so upsetting to her and she already feels horrible that she's leaving me and her family."
Bolen even missed work the day after the video was posted to Facebook, to comfort her daughter.
"It's actually a very nice video, but nobody can ever say they've been in her place," Bolen said. "With all due respect, he doesn't know the level of pain she has had."
But Schroeter has dealt with his fair share of pain. He, too, has gone through a similar experience with the same disorder.
He explained that he has suffered through multiple surgeries, understands the monotony of lying on the couch all day, and has even encountered a close brush with death during a near-fatal bout with pneumonia.
And, for the last two years, Schroeter told InsideEdition.com that he also went through a period where he doubted the direction of his life.
"I understand the mindset of what she's talking about — what it feels like to have no quality of life," he said. "I didn't know where I was going and I felt worthless. It claws at your brain, it eats you alive, and demons attack you internally."
But when Jerika Bolen announced earlier this month that her constant pain has become too much to bear, Shroeter said he snapped out of his dark period.
"All of a sudden, this story comes along, and that was the end of my crisis," he said. "She was part of the key. I used the pain as fuel rather than sulking in it. I decided, 'Okay, I need to say something.'"
The aspiring priest, who just completed his bachelor's degree in pre-seminary studies from Concordia University in Wisconsin, said he realized in that moment that his purpose in life was to help others, starting with one desperate plea for Jerika to re-examine her decision.
But Jen Bolen said his incessant plea that has made its way to the family several times has only made the time harder for the family.
"It's frustrating when I continue to get these messages trying to say they know where she's coming from, because they don't," Bolen told InsideEdition.com. "She decided on this for a long time."
Bolen explained her daughter's discomfort stems from not the disease itself, but the countless surgeries she has gone through to ease the pain, which have unfortunately "only made it worse," she said.
"Because of her fighting spirit, I know she would say if she can handle it, and she has just handled way beyond what I could have ever asked for," her mom said. "It would be very selfish of me to say, 'No, stay here.'"
After throwing Jerika a prom to remember last weekend as her final wish before she ends her life, Bolen said her daughter's decision has finally began sinking in.
"As a mother, it's hard for me not to want to give every last ditch effort to try to convince her," Bolen said, while fighting tears, "but she's made her decision and no one's going to change her mind.
"People just need to stop," she said.