Turning tragedy into a legacy of preventing teen suicide


FOLEY, Ala. (WKRG) — Jennifer Claire Moore is described by her mother as a typical teenager with tons of personality.

“Well, Jennifer was a redhead. So, that says a lot. Ah, Full of energy, very petite, fireball, firecracker and loved to go and do, loved her horses,” said Frances Holk-Jones.

WKRG News 5 featured Moore in May of 1997 for her barrel racing abilities.

“I don’t know what happened to Jennifer. I just know she made a very permanent decision over what I assume was a very temporary problem.”

Frances Holk-Jones

Four months after the broadcast, the 16-year-old champion barrel racer shot herself in the head.

Her suicide came as a complete shock to the entire family. “My husband and I remembered one time she came through the door just giggling. She said it’s just great to be popular. I’m having so much fun. Life is great.”

The family founded the Jennifer Claire Moore Foundation making it their mission to prevent others from losing children to suicide. However, the loss of Jennifer was more than her father, Norman Neal Moore, could bear. Three years after her death, he went to Jennifer’s graveside and called his wife to say goodbye.

“I kept saying but where are you? He said, I’ve told you. I am with Jennifer. Everything will be fine.”

Frances Holk-Jones

He shot himself in the heart and died at Jennifer’s grave. The two of them are buried side by side.

“My rationale is Jennifer was very confused, growing up 16-year-old and she was confused with life, her head. Where Neal actually had a broken heart, and he just couldn’t get it healed.”

Frances Holk-Jones

Holk-Jones has asked herself repeatedly what she could have done differently and is passionate about helping other families avoid the heartbreak that comes from losing a loved one to suicide.

“The statistics show that the number one person a teenager will talk to is a fellow teenager.”

Frances Holk-Jones

The Jennifer Claire Moore Foundation established the Peer Helpers program, which trains fellow students to be good listeners.

“This arms them with the education of what to do. How far to go with those leading questions, but then when to turn it over to a professional.”

Frances Holk-Jones

The program started in Baldwin County and has spread nationwide.

“My philosophy is that I couldn’t change the facts,” Holk-Jones said. “There was nothing I could do to bring her (Jennifer) back. Regardless of how hard I prayed and dreamed and wished and you name it. I couldn’t bring her back, but what I could do with the help of some very wonderful friends to try to educate future students that there are people that you can talk to. If you can’t talk to your friends, you can talk to your neighbors or your family. There are people out there that will talk to you and listen to you.”

The Jennifer Claire Moore Foundation is now offering Youth Mental Health First Aid, an eight-hour certification course that teaches adults how to recognize signs of mental health problems in adolescents.

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