On April 2, 2018 our lives were forever changed when our beloved 19-year-old son and brother Kyle died by suicide. Most people who knew Kyle would describe him as a funny, kind, and genuine person who had great compassion for his family, friends, and strangers. What many people did not know, and in some cases were shocked to learn about, were his struggles with mental illness for nearly ten years.
Kyle often spoke about not only his own OCD, anxiety, and depression, but he also talked about the high volume of other teens and young adults in high schools and colleges who struggle with mental health challenges every day. In a final letter written by Kyle prior to his passing, he stressed the importance of raising awareness of mental illness and suicide. He encouraged others who struggled with mental illness to seek help and recover; to never stop fighting the disease, and to never feel ashamed for having to admit they need assistance.
And so, we feel a strong responsibility to tell Kyle’s story with candor and honesty. We hope to fulfill Kyle’s final wish to talk openly about the importance of mental health and suicide, bringing these two powerful diseases to the forefront of everyday dialogue in society. Helping other teens, young adults, and their parents become more knowledgeable on these topics may give them more courage to seek help for themselves, their loved ones, or their friends, and to know where to turn for the support services they desperately need.
Perhaps the best representation of Kyle is this quote he shared in his letter – words he lived by himself every day despite his own struggle: “You should try to be nice to everyone – I know it’s hard…but everyone has a story that will break your heart.” This is a life lesson for all of us to remember, and one we will strive to live by as well. It is our hope that Kyle’s legacy of caring for others will continue to live on in his name through the KyleCares Foundation.
Jim, Sue, Katie & Lauren Johnson