‘Embrace the gift of life’: Mother accepts medical degree after son’s suicide

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - It's graduation day, a day Julian Richardson's mom has anticipated as long as she can remember.

"At this moment, I'm feeling very proud," said JaQuette Gatewood.

But this moment also comes with grief as this proud mom won't get to see her son Julian walk across the stage.

"Julian had a life like all of our lives he had a purpose, I believe he fulfilled his purpose and I believe he's smiling down on us today," JaQuette said.

Julian took his life just two months shy of graduating with a doctorate in medicine from University of Tennessee Health Science Center.

JaQuette said he left a two-page letter addressing family members and his fellow classmates.

In it, she said, Julian shared his battle with depression, as well as love for those he left behind.

"In life we all experience depression and unlike what a lot of people think, depression is something and these were his words, you can't just snap out of it, you can't just get over it because it's a very dark place," JaQuette said.

This graduation day, his mom is choosing to see the light.

"The degree he has earned is well-deserved," JaQuette said.

A seat filled with flowers sat empty in Julian's honor, as his mom proudly accepted his degree.

Though Julian will never save lives as a doctor, Gatewood hopes her son's story does save someone else's life.

"Embrace the gift of life, to live this life abundantly, to share the love of our Creator to all humankind," Jaquette said.

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