ISU alumna tackles suicidal thoughts

Andrea Rodgers book Caged Dove.

Courtesy of Andrea Rodgers

Andrea Rodgers’ book Caged Dove.

Jaki Cavins

Suicidal thoughts and being a victim of bullying were obstacles that ISU alumna and author Andrea Rodgers had to overcome.

Those experiences and her passion for writing inspired her latest novel, “Caged Dove,” which shines a light on the issue of bullycide. 

Completing “Caged Dove” was not an easy task for Rodgers because it brought about painful memories from her past. However, after two decades of consideration, she drew up the courage to finish the novel, knowing that it would be of help to those struggling with similar issues.

“Bullying and suicidal thoughts were something I once dealt with and overcame, but I believe it’s also our duty to stand up for those who are currently going through similar situations,” Rodgers said. 

Bullycide is suicide as a result of being bullied. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, in 2015, 1 in 4 students report being bullied during the school year. 

As a result of these numbers, people like Rodgers are left feeling rejected and insecure. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the third leading cause of death for young people. This is why Rodgers knew she had to use her talents to make a difference and take a stand.

The bullying started for Rodgers when she was in kindergarten. It continued throughout her childhood; no one to come to her rescue. When she entered junior high, things only got worse.

“A child can fight back, stand up for themselves by talking back, ignore others, offer kindness and follow any other sort of advice — but if they are still bullied day after day, year after year, then they can’t help but have their spirit broken,” Rodgers said. “There will be a breaking point … and for me that happened in junior high.”

The kids were cruel to her, and Rodgers eventually began to hit her breaking point. She had no one to lean on; during school she was either harassed or ignored. 

“I prayed every night that I would die,” Rodgers said.

Finally, she wrote a suicide letter, and her parents saw how seriously Rodgers had been hurt and needed help. They sent her to a therapist who Rodgers said practically saved her life and eventually things started to get better.

During high school, Rodgers was in a good place and stayed involved, participating in many activities including cheer squad, her school’s literary magazine, speech contests and the National Honor Society.

Her college experience was even better. Rodgers attended Iowa State, studying journalism and communication. 

She described loving every minute of her time in college.

“I didn’t want to leave after only four years,” she said.

She was at Iowa State when she met her husband, and she even had her wedding in the Sun Room at Memorial Union.      

After college, Rodgers published her book “The 20th Christmas,” and her life-long dream of becoming a published novelist had finally come true. After this, she still felt as though she needed to write a book that mirrored her struggle with bullycide.            

As a writer, Rodgers knew she should use her passion to write about her darker past in order to help those going through the same situation. It was not an easy process, but she felt in her heart that it was her duty.

“Just because I’d gone on with my life didn’t mean that other people weren’t still going through it,” Rodgers said. “I owed it to them to be a voice. To do whatever I can to help bring a stop to bullying.”

Her novel, “Caged Dove”, will be released Thursday during National Bullying Prevention Month. The story centers around main character Aniston Kline, who Rodgers revealed shares many of the qualities she possesses herself. 

She wrote the story to give hope to those struggling with bullying and depression. 

“Please know that life is constantly changing,” Rodgers said. “Whatever you’re going through is not permanent. All of our struggles are temporary, and there is always a way out toward a better life.”