Campaign launched in Kirsta’s name
A teenager was remembered on what would have been her 18th birthday yesterday by a fundraising effort to help prevent young suicide.
Johnita Simons launched the online campaign as part of her daughter Kirsta's “legacy”.
She wrote: “As a mother of a child that lost her life to suicide, I know first hand the heartache that is felt by family members that are left behind.”
Ms Simons, 40, said that she was still trying to piece together what happened before her daughter took her own life aged 17 at West Ridge Academy in West Jordan, Utah.
A spokeswoman for Bermuda's Ministry of Legal Affairs confirmed — after the incident last November — “the unfortunate passing of a child” who was referred to a treatment facility abroad.
Ms Simons wrote on a JustGiving fundraising page that her daughter was born on July 19, 2002, weighing 8lbs 4oz.
She said: “For the month of July, I would like to remember Kirsta by raising funds for the Papyrus charity. They are the national charity for the prevention of young suicide in the UK.”
She added: “Suicide is the biggest killer of young people under the age of 35 in the UK. In just 2018 alone, over 1,800 young people took their own lives. That is far too many.
“I truly believe that her life has a purpose. Not to die, but to continue to live through the legacy that she has left behind. One hundred per cent of the money raised goes to support this awesome charity.”
The Papyrus website said that the organisation provided “confidential support and advice to young people struggling with thoughts of suicide, and anyone worried about a young person” through its helpline.
It added: “We engage communities and volunteers in suicide prevention projects and deliver training programmes to individuals and groups.”
Ms Simons wrote: “Your donations really are life-saving.
“So let's make a difference in the life of a young person, just like Kirsta. And let them know that they do matter, they are loved and there is support out there.”
The mother said that although her relationship with her daughter was “strained”, the pair were close.
But the last time they communicated properly, was in October 2018.
Ms Simons explained last month that Kirsta had not been in her care since the age of 7.
She said that when she moved to Britain with her younger children, Kirsta, who was on a care order, stayed in Bermuda and lived with a family member.
Ms Simons added that she wanted to prevent her daughter from sharing her own childcare duties, when other family would not be nearby to help.
She said: “I thought that I was doing the best for her by giving her a chance at life, to be a child, to have friends ... go to the movies. There was so much I wanted for her, I didn't want her to become a second mommy to her younger siblings, they were my responsibility and I didn't want that for her.
“Naturally, Kirsta felt a way about it, she felt that I loved the younger two more than her ... that's not true and it's something that she struggled with, along with other things that happened to her while she was in my care.”
• The fundraising page can be found at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/kirstasdream. Anyone experiencing suicidal thoughts or any mental health crisis can call the Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute 24-hour mental health crisis line on 239-1111
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