This picture is of my little brother Hunter. He took his life last month, he was only 18 years old. Hunter and I were very close growing up, we had a 5 year age gap but having only one other brother a year older than me, he was my only little sibling! Growing up I would always pretend he was my little sister by dressing him up and playing house. We both had a love for soccer and we would spend hours at the field practicing our juggling and crosses. Huntee had such a good sense of style and would ask me how I liked certain clothes on him, but as we got older I would ask his opinion. He was the king of board games and so fun to play with because he would set everything up, read all the instructions and take it all down. 😉 I moved away to college when Hunter was only 13, but he would always be my little bro.
We wish we would have known about Hunter’s struggle with depression while he was alive. We would have done anything in the world to help him, he had so many people that loved him and would help him in a second. He had down days like any teenager does, but we had no idea what he was really struggling with deep inside. I wish as his older sister that I could have understood what he was going through and done more to help him. We wish he would have told someone so we could have gotten him the help he needed.
Hunter’s suicide has been the hardest trial I have ever had to endure. It feels as if there is a big hole in my heart that might never be healed. A hurt so deep that sometimes you feel as if you can’t breathe, a massive pit in my stomach that comes when I think of this reality. I know I will never see my little bro again in this life, but I am so grateful for the knowledge I have that I will see him again one day. I know he is here watching over us and will be here for the big moments in my life, even if it’s just in spirit.
Moving forward, my family and I want to do everything we can to help prevent another going through the pain and grief we have gone through. Suicide awareness is so important and I am going to be an advocate for that. Mental illness needs to be normalized in our society and there needs to be a change in the stigma. Mental illness is like any other illness, you wouldn’t tell someone they were weak if they had cancer? Depression, anxiety, bipolar, all mental illnesses should be treated as cancer or any other illness would, and taken seriously. If you are struggling please know: your life matters, you are so so important, there are so many people that love you and will help you if you only ask, there are so many reasons to stay. Please reach out to someone and know there is help waiting for you!
Through all this I have learned to be more accepting and understanding. I have more empathy, compassion, and love for those things I don’t understand because I haven’t experienced them. I want those I love to know they can come to me if they are struggling, I’m here and I hear them. I want to leave no question in people’s minds that they are so loved and important, and that their life has purpose. They have so much potential to make something amazing of their life, and there is reason to STAY.
Until we truly meet again, I will be watching for him in those fire orange red sunsets that he always loved, hear him every time I listen to a LANY song, feel him when I eat a Costa Vida salad with no pico and extra chips and play for him when I pick up a soccer ball. I miss you and love you so much, Huntee.