Alden Niel Barrett

Alden Niel Barrett

Birth
American Fork, Utah County, Utah, USA
Death 13 Mar 1971 (aged 16)
American Fork, Utah County, Utah, USA
Burial Pleasant Grove, Utah County, Utah, USA
Plot A-02-008-06
Memorial ID 115166 · View Source
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Alden was the oldest child of Doyle and Marcella Barrett. In high school he was tested as having a genius IQ, and was very involved in his school's debate team and drama club. He also enjoyed writing poetry. His parents and many others who knew him described him as an intelligent and sensitive young man. During his teenage years he began to experience problems with depression, and to rebel against the Mormon religion and society he had formerly been a devoted member of. Like many other young people of the era, he was interested in Eastern religions, espoused anti-establishment views, and got involved with taking drugs. His family noticed he was having problems, but the psychiatric help they arranged for him didn't work out. At the age of sixteen he ended his own life by shooting himself in the right temple, feeling his life had spiralled out of control due to his depression and problems with a girlfriend whom he had "married" in a mock ceremony. He was posthumously diagnosed with clinical depression. Two years later, his grieving parents contacted a psychologist in Provo, Dr. Beatrice Sparks, editor of the allegedly "real-life" journal 'Go Ask Alice,' who told them she would edit and publish Alden's journal as a warning to other teenagers suffering from depression. The book's publication in 1979, as 'Jay's Journal,' shocked his family and their entire town, because of its depiction of Alden as someone who had gotten deeply involved in a bizarre occult Satanic group. The identifying details had also not been changed enough, so people in the community easily figured out "Jay's" true identity. It was later discovered that only 21 of the 212 journal entries were actually Alden's, and that the Satanic entries were from other teenagers Dr. Sparks had worked with, combined with things she had written herself. The real Alden's journal had never even mentioned such things. Because of the community reaction to what they believed to be Alden's actual journal, his family was forced to move, his parents eventually divorced, and his grave was vandalized several times, as well as being stolen and then returned facing in the opposite direction. In 1997 Alden's brother Scott published a book which he hoped to set the record straight, 'A Place in the Sun: The Truth Behind Jay's Journal,' which was later turned into a rock opera by the Utah band Grain.

Bio by: Carrie-Anne


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  • Maintained by: Brenda
  • Originally Created by: Utah State Historical Society
  • Added: 1 Feb 2000
  • Find A Grave Memorial 115166
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Alden Niel Barrett (4 Sep 1954–13 Mar 1971), Find A Grave Memorial no. 115166, citing Pleasant Grove City Cemetery, Pleasant Grove, Utah County, Utah, USA ; Maintained by Brenda (contributor 47111878) .