Remembered by friends and family as a vivacious and friendly young woman, Walt Whitman High School sophomore Jordana “Jojo” Greenberg, of Bethesda, died Nov. 27. She was 16 and had battled depression.
According to a death notice The Washington Post, she had a strong sense of adventure and “whacky” sense of humor. She would wear “intergalactic space kitten shirts” and wanted to be a paratrooper in the Air Force after graduation.
Greenberg had been battling depression for years, but “her heart was simply too big to hold the pain of life,” the death notice said. Services were held Dec. 1.
Greenberg was also a vegetarian and passionate about animal rights — she would have been heading up Whitman’s Animal Rights Club next year, according to an email to the school from Principal Alan Goodwin.
She had an artistic flair — painting and acting were her chosen methods of self-expression — and her favorite class was Arabic. She was also on the junior varsity volleyball team and a cheerleader.
“Just everyone in their own way was touched by Jojo,” Olivia Tello, a friend and classmate at Whitman, told Bethesda Magazine. “Everyone at school was just really devastated.”
A vigil for Greenberg was held Nov. 30 at the school. Students were asked to wear jeans to school the day before and pink to the vigil in her memory. A memorial with signs, balloons and flowers was created by her fellow students along the Capital Crescent Trail bridge.
Though few students used a locker at Whitman, according to Bethesda Magazine, Greenberg did and it is now decorated with letters, cards and signs of support and commemoration. Classmates describe her as a good student, and the school is making counselors and other mental health professionals available to students and staff to help them grieve the sudden loss.
“Her family would like to ask that we all reach out in a loving way every day to those who may be silently suffering, and help raise awareness for teen depression,” the death notice said.
Greenberg is survived by her parents, Sonya Spielberg and Jonathan Greenberg; and sister Carina.
Contributions can be made to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP).