Dear Kieran

It was six years ago yesterday. You are the only student I’ve lost and I still don’t understand it.

What a waste.

What a loss.

You would have been the most amazing young man. You were so funny and bright. If I could tell you anything, I would let you know that your family and friends sorely miss you. Losing you completely changed each of them. Your family moved out of state to start a new life. Your sister is a beautiful impressive college student. She is still a spitfire too. Your mom and dad, against the odds, are still together and I can tell they love each other with a depth that most of us will never know.

Since I’ll never understand why, I want to offer some important information instead:

Suicide is much more common than people realize. In May 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concluded that more people die from suicide than car accidents each year. An average of one person dies from suicide every 13 minutes (though many go unreported). For young people ages 15-24 it is the second leading cause of death. The strongest risk factor for suicide is depression but 80% of people treated for depression are treated successfully. The families and survivors of suicide live with a stigma about it. It’s important that society becomes more comfortable talking about it.

I will always remember your jokes and my extra time tutoring you after school. You are one of the first kids I drove around before I had my own. That was a big deal for me. I wish I could’ve been there for you when you needed it most.

If you are in immediate danger because of thoughts of suicide, call 9-1-1.

If you are having thoughts of suicide, please call 1-800-784-2433.

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