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Digital Subscriptions > Newsweek International > 8th July 2016 > PRAYING FOR NO SIGNAL

PRAYING FOR NO SIGNAL

Science insists that electromagnetic hypersensitivity doesn’t exist—cold comfort for those debilitated by its symptoms

@stokel

NEARLY A YEAR to the day 15-year-old Jenny Fry took her own life, her mother, Debra, brought tulips and a sunflower to lay at her grave.

“In the early days, I came every day,” Fry, a dental nurse, says over the phone from her home in Oxfordshire, England, before she left with her husband, Charles, for the cemetery. “Then it went to every other day. Generally, now it’s every three days; five days at the most.”

She sighs. She sounds drained, unsurprising for a mother still coming to terms with the loss of her middle child. But her exhaustion is not just because of grief. In the year since her family lost their daughter, Fry has devoted her life to battling what she says was the direct cause of Jenny’s death: the onward march of technology. In doing so, she’s thrust herself into a deeply polarized scientific debate over how best to define an illness on the frontier of science today.

For over two and a half years, Jenny had been feeling ill, complaining of headaches and exhaustion. She couldn’t concentrate at school and couldn’t sleep at night. Her parents tried a host of solutions to alleviate the problem: They bought a new mattress and thicker curtains to help her sleep; they took her to an orthodontist to see if the headaches were caused by an overbite. “I did all the things you would do in my professional capacity,” Debra says, “going through things like a detective to see what caused this or that, and ruling out options.”

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