My 13-year-old cousin, Kora, passed away on January 24, 2020 due to suicide. She was found by her family when they went to make sure she was up for school. She was on life support for a few days and then her organs were donated. This is my letter to her.
When I saw you for the last time, you were in the pediatric ICU because you decided to end your life.
Kora, many of my best memories revolve around you, but my single worst memory does as well. When I saw you in that hospital bed, your body was limp; it looked like you were sleeping and would open your eyes any second and then, everything would be right in the world again. But everything was not right. You had already been pronounced brain dead and were only being kept alive so your organs could be donated.
I wish I could go back in time and tell you how I feel. I think nice things about everyone. In my heart, I know I love them, care for them and appreciate them. I know the world wouldn’t be the same without them. But it was only after your death that I realized that I needed to tell people that. I realized it wasn’t too late to tell other people, so I sent a text to all of my family and friends to tell them how special they were to me. The replies I got back were even better. They were genuine, heartfelt responses that I wouldn’t have known if I had never taken the time to text them first. You never need a reason to tell someone how meaningful they are, and I can’t believe it took your suicide for me to learn that.
Sometimes it’s hard to comprehend that you’re really gone. I’ll be thinking of you, and for a second, I’ll think about next time I’ll see you. Then I have to tell myself, “No, there is no next time. Kora is gone.” It’s so weird that we are…were the same age. It makes it hurt more. When we were together, we were the dynamic duo, the dream team. Everyone knew we would be together baking a cake, doing a puzzle, or looking up cute baby animals. It’s hard to think that the girl I played Uno and made iMovies with felt so unwanted that she took her own life. It’s even harder to think that you will forever be 13 years old. Even when I’m 30, even when I’m 80, you’ll still be 13. You should have grown up with me. I miss you, Kora.
Suicide is preventable. Scientists have given us warning signs to look for, but they aren’t always obvious. We can do things every day to make a difference. Always ask someone how they’re feeling, check in with them from time to time, and even let them know that it’s okay to share their thoughts or feelings, even if those thoughts may be about suicide.
Remember to always tell everyone how much you appreciate them, whether through texts or to their faces. Just let them know they matter and you care because you will never regret doing this.
And, most importantly, never joke about suicide. Suicide is not a joke. Always remember that you never know what everyone around you is going through, or if they will take something in a joking way or not. Never tell someone to kill himself or herself. It’s something I have heard middle schoolers around me say to each other before as a “joke,” but you never know if the person on the receiving end of that comment could take it as a joke. That “joke” could possibly have a very serious outcome.
If you are thinking of suicide, call someone you love, who you trust, or someone who will support you. If you don’t feel there is anyone, call a suicide hotline. No one will judge you for it. It’s okay to not be okay, but it’s not okay to not say anything about how you’re feeling. There is always hope, help, and someone to call, so don’t let the rest of your life disappear. There is still so much you can live for, so many reasons to stay.
This is what suicide really feels like. No one is happy you’re gone, no matter how much you might think so. This is suicide. Regret. Sorrow. Confusion. Longing. Suicide isn’t the end of the suffering, just the beginning of someone else’s. The beginning of someone piecing together memories. The beginning of so many wondering…why?
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, call (800) 273-TALK (8255). It’s completely free and people are there to help.