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kiota is gone

Fifteen days before her 19th birthday, one of my students --- whom I had been helping with academic and creative work --- committed suicide. It happened very far from UVM, at her college on the other side of the country. They found her yesterday.

She had been born in New Jersey and had grown up in Israel from the age of three, near the West Bank, and returned to the USA last Fall to start college here.

She was doing some brilliant writing, far beyond what I've ever seen from a first-year student, and was being praised for it by her faculty. But she was also carrying a massive amount of pyschological pain, which was growing and had been for the past ten years at least. This finally grew great enough to kill all her hope of ever healing it in this life.

Along the way, many people tried to intervene to help her, including me: but the help proved to be temporary and the damage was unstoppable.

Only a handful of her LJ friends ever got to meet her in real life. I was one of them. That is as unforgettable as her death is. Her light will be remembered much much longer.


( 37 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 16th, 2008 02:36 pm (UTC)
i'm so sorry brad, i knew you liked eachother an awful lot. i'm so glad you got to meet her, though. i hoped to one day meet her also.

i had been talking to anna for about 2 years, on livejournal and msn. she was the first person i reached to for help with certain problems i was facing. she was very supportive of me, and continued to be so up until her last day.

she touched the lives of so many and i really hope that even though she decided to go, she knew just what she meant to us.
Apr. 16th, 2008 03:44 pm (UTC)
Yeah, it's one of those unusual things where we connected solidly over the net for three years before we actually met. It was unusual since I hardly had one single tiny bit of the psych problems she was going through and failing to recover from, our life histories were completely different although we had some of the same things in common: independence, desire to counsel others, feminism, and delight in debating and exploring new ideas.

I think you don't need to have any doubt at all about what you meant to her, and what others did, because right up until the last hours she was casting a wide net for new persons to meet whom she could perhaps help, and perhaps would come to love her unconditionally.

I think in helping others she was healing herself, little by little.

The impact of what she felt as her roommates ignoring her and of some friends dropping away from her was absolutely tearing her up --- in this tiny American college tucked into the woods --- and she wrote about her anguish so very very well. Every word is absolutely authentic. I've just been discussing with another friend what it would mean socially to start college one-half a world away from friends, where you know absolutely nothing of the American high school experience.

I think she had long ago decided on the point where the pain of isolation would be too much to bear, I think she said "I would just keep on hurting if I don't do it now"...and that's the point she reached. If I had been there at the time --- instead of five miles up in a jet flying back East in the middle of the night --- I'm sure she would have masked her inner despair, not let me see it, because she knew how much pain it would cause me.

She is absolutely not replaceable, ever ---- and her unique light will go on living in our hearts as long as we keep her close.
Apr. 16th, 2008 02:58 pm (UTC)
Oh god. I can't even think, let alone say anything.

How did she do it? I talked to her a week ago. She talked me out of killing myself.
Apr. 16th, 2008 03:54 pm (UTC)
Hi, Nur, look at my post to whiskey-lips above for some of that.

It's absolutely in character that she has helped a LOT of people to step away from killing themselves.

I don't know how many details the college is going to give to us. So I can only guess. If she were found in her apartment, she may have taken a large drug overdose to dull her choking-survival reactions and hanged herself. She'd made that attempt some years ago in Israel.

She also wrote in her LJ about doing something privately and alone. If she followed through with actually leaving her suicide note on her bed, she could easily have stolen out of her apt. in the middle of the night --- nobody would notice or even care --- and gone out into the forest and found a tree to hang from.

She also wrote about jumping off a tall building, indeed I think I recall she had actually picked one [not telling readers which one it was] --- but there are not a lot of choices on campus [maybe only one] and that would be very very public.

With all the love she has spread to us, I'm sure each of us will have many chances to share with another just as she did. The first place to start would be with ourselves, to process the loss and the grief as well as we can. Knowing that this is what she wants for each of us.
Apr. 16th, 2008 06:19 pm (UTC)
I first read about this on a forum, and my automatic response was that it was a member playing a cruel joke about her ongoing depression. After reading her last journal entry and this one, all I can say is, in a way, I'm glad her pain is done. Of course I wish it hadn't happened, and admittedly I'm crying right now.

I actually thought, several times, of flying out to see her. Or hell, driving. At the same time, however... I didn't know if it would help, permanently that is. I don't think I could've stopped this from happening. But I wish I had had a chance to meet her.

Please let us know anything else you find out.
Apr. 16th, 2008 08:24 pm (UTC)
Be glad to keep you updated when I know anything more, Celtic-A.
Apr. 17th, 2008 12:12 am (UTC)
Hi, I'm a lj friend to Kiota- I never knew which forums she was active in- I only knew of her blog. Would you be kind enough to share the link of the forum which she was active in? Thank you in advance.
Apr. 17th, 2008 12:42 am (UTC)
Hi, M-Nothing: I don't know if this refers to Claire's target, but here are two:

http://www.progressiveu.org is where she did a lot of recent academic work and debate work: you can go there and click on the SEARCH tab [it is in the banner at the top] and then type in KIOTA when the search box comes up. that's going to give you an awesome amount of pleasure if it's your first time there. she urged people to "join" the blog so she could get votes for her writing, and those writer-bloggers with the most votes were eligible to win a scholarship for school. She wanted to earn as much money for school as she could, in order to lessen the burden on her family.

her art galleries are directly accessible just by typing in--



and there are navigation tabs on each page. many of the images can be ordered from Deviant Art or downloaded directly. there are some writings there also!
Apr. 17th, 2008 01:34 am (UTC)
That wasn't the forum, although I signed up there also to vote for some of the things she wrote.

I'm actually going to wait to ask Lin if I should post a link to the forum or not, just because of some circumstances revolving around it. Lin is a good friend of mine, and knew Kiota pretty well-there's some pictures Kiota took of her in her Deviantart-so yeah.
Apr. 17th, 2008 02:01 am (UTC)
Yes, one of her DA photographs of Lin is just terrific: pose, lighting, wondrous.
Apr. 17th, 2008 02:17 am (UTC)
The recent pictures she did were so good, and less then 2 weeks ago.

Although this is not the forum where I know her from, a friend of mine just showed me this, a forum where she was a volunteer.


Personally, I'm amazed. I mean, I never knew that she did any of this stuff, and all we've just said about how she helped so many people is clearly proven true there.
Apr. 17th, 2008 04:35 am (UTC)
Yes, Claire, you're absolutely right. The group and solo shots she got were on the frisbee field right outside her building. Her heart just went out to the homeless people who had called her their "little sister" and "everybody's litle sister" and she had started making a digital video of them. When we were grasping for the tiniest shred of hope, I thought that down to them would be exactly where she would go for unconditional love and support in real life, in your face. I brought with me from NYC six knitted wool caps, handmade [not by me, by a friend] and told her that they were intended as a gift for her street people, and she was absolutely thrilled. She decided to keep one for herself.

TeenHelp was a big big factor in her life and she loved her work there and told me about it constantly, for years---- how proud she was, being able to serve in that way. Thank you so much for the link!

Some of her photos have attracted the attention of a major gallery in New York, and they are devastated at what happened.
Apr. 17th, 2008 03:20 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for your patience and kindness in your reply- I was fearful that I'd be yelled at for wanting to see more of her writings, even if it's in forums. She was such an inspiration... Do you mind if I add you?
Apr. 18th, 2008 11:32 am (UTC)
Please do that, missingnothing. I just now added you.

I don't yell at folks anyway, and even if I did, I wouldn't yell at you! Besides, this is no time for yelling.

I've always loved your Bettie Page icon, btw :P
Apr. 17th, 2008 02:00 am (UTC)
Well, the forum I heard about this from was AGeans - however, I don't recall her being active there, or even if she had an account. AGeans is a gathering of people who were on www.avidgamers.com general forums before it shut down, and it was from there that everyone knew Kiota. Sadly, while I know she posted on other forums, she never said which ones so I can't tell you any more. I'm sorry.
Apr. 17th, 2008 02:18 am (UTC)
Ageans is where I know her. I didn't want to post it at first because some people hadn't been that nice to her about some stuff, so yeah.
Apr. 17th, 2008 04:24 am (UTC)
Yeah, she actually complained to me about AG. Very short convo.
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 16th, 2008 08:08 pm (UTC)
Re: it's max
I can't help you, unless you wanted to login through my account and read it, which (I hope understandably) I'd be a bit wary of doing. However it reminded me of something: If anyone does for some reason have a access to Ki's account, I think it might be good to make her journals public >< For this very reason.

Again, sorry I'm not really able to help.
Apr. 16th, 2008 08:34 pm (UTC)
Re: it's max
Max, it's Brad, and I'd be happy to help.

First of all, you could maybe try LiveJournal admin to see about getting the lock taken off. I don't know at this time who can do that and who can't.

But what you really are after is what she did not post anything about --- it's what she talked to me about on Friday afternoon. She talked a whole bunch about you and I just sat there and listened to her. I don't think she ever made the time to post it, so unless you were mentioned in her suicide letter to her parents [which she said she left on her bed,] these would be "her last thoughts".

These are really very intimate and personal things and so I don't feel comfortable about writing them in a public journal or even a locked one. Would you be interested in a personal Email from me?

I feel ok about doing this because --- now, at least --- I feel she would want you to know....
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 17th, 2008 10:48 pm (UTC)
Re: it's max
--I spent today thinking about this. I'm leaning towards sending a message to anyone who asks with the password, although I've already gotten a comment back saying if Ki didn't have them reading before, they shouldn't be reading now. You will be the first I message if I unlock my journal, unless someone else makes their account accessible before I do.
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 18th, 2008 10:47 am (UTC)
Re: it's max
Agreed, glad you got in. Emailed you last eve too, and just now again.
Apr. 16th, 2008 09:15 pm (UTC)
I wasn't really close with Kiota, as she was called on the forum I frequent, but I'd known her a long time. I'm fifteen, and I must of met her when I was eleven or so. I guess we never talked regularly, but there were a few things she did that just demonstrated what a great person she was. She was ALWAYS, unconditionally there for people that needed help. People would post, contemplating suicide, and she'd talk to them. She wouldn't question their honesty or their purposes for posting, she'd just help, which many others did not do. There was one occasion when a person was posing, pretending to be a fourteen year old boy who was being abused by his step-father, and she sought to help him. After figuring out the truth, she wasn't critical or angry at the person-as I was, as I'd been closely involved in this situation-but still there to help, because the person just felt the need to do that. She was always willing to talk to people that needed her, helping others. Talking them out of suicide, of taking their own lives. She was such a good person. It's such a tragedy that she died. I'm so sorry for all those that were close to her. She may be gone, but the positive impact and change that she has made on the lives of many won't ever be.
Apr. 17th, 2008 12:58 am (UTC)
ALWAYS, unconditionally there
So many have experienced exactly this. Including me. And not always in distressed situations, either.

I'm not Jewish but I stopped by Chabad House on campus to talk, met Zalman, a young man who heard some of Anna's story and suggested that her mourners share and concentrate on and work toward the positive things she showed us in her life. and here is Claire talking of the same things.

I'm very humbled atm that my journal has become a kind of forum remembering Anna, since the only reason I have one in the first place is that Anna poked me and poked me to start one, because she had friendslocked hers and this was the only way I could keep up with her daily life as she wanted me to do, once she had friended me.

So the fact we are all here with her now, and with each other, is another gift directly from her...another unconditional one.
Apr. 17th, 2008 03:57 am (UTC)
You don't know me, but I just wanted to post and say that I hope the time she got to spend with you, a real flesh-and-blood friend, made at least a few of her last hours here happy.

I cared so much about Anna and I'm sorry that I never got to chat to her any more than the few emails we shot back and forth and the occasional LJ comment discussion. She deserved so much more than she got, and I don't think she ever realised how many lives she touched and changed for the better.
Apr. 17th, 2008 04:23 am (UTC)
Hey, 3parts, thank you! Yeah, I know she enjoyed meeting me after all our writing back and forth...happy is relative, of course, but for awhile at least she didn't feel ignored and she trotted me around to introduce to her friends and I gave her my full attention when she wasn't in class and she loved that. We also had some very good talks, about child abuse and suicide. I wish it had been much much longer; Friday was when stuff really started to hit the fan and I ALMOST changed my flight but i don't really think that would have done anything but postpone tragedy for a day. She was reallyreally stressed at the start of Friday evening....
Apr. 17th, 2008 05:23 am (UTC)
I miss her so much. I'm so sad.
Apr. 17th, 2008 05:44 am (UTC)
My God. I just found her myspace. I didn't know she had one!

She was such a beautiful girl.
Apr. 17th, 2008 06:27 am (UTC)
Do you mind if I add you? I've seen you comment on Kiota's entries and you seem interesting.
Apr. 17th, 2008 10:32 am (UTC)
Thanks, Angel, just added you back as well. Kiota's spirit is very much alive, building new communities right here ....
Apr. 19th, 2008 11:28 pm (UTC)
Touche, new friend :)
Apr. 17th, 2008 09:57 am (UTC)
Can I add you as a friend?

I don't have much to say on the subject yet - I am pretty ambivalent about how I feel at the moment. Your comments and entries are somewhat comforting though, in a weird way.
Apr. 17th, 2008 10:30 am (UTC)
Sure, Dialtag -- just added you back!
Apr. 17th, 2008 01:08 pm (UTC)
This is so sad and such a waste.

Someone who knew her well (maybe you?) should probably write a memorial post to ljers4eternity as soon as there is a published obituary to link. (Anything posted without a link to an obituary is likely to get challenged as fake.)

I would also like to see a memorial community set up, the way we did for sad_little_scar at for_krystle. There is already a community called we_love_kiota which could be converted into a memorial community if the maintainer can be reached.

Apr. 17th, 2008 02:05 pm (UTC)
Hi, Cat, these sound like great ideas.

In the local city paper where her college is, the obits typically run a week late and I haven't caught anything there yet.

In her hometown in Israel,I have no clue about public postings and where they'd be. I'm sure the family will arrange for this or has already.

Not sure I qualify as someone "who knew her well": like many, I had a very active online relationship with her for years, and by chance happened to spend chunks of her last weekend with her at her school physically [unlike everyone else].

Probably the ones who knew her best while she was a teenager in Israel, and had personal contact with her day-by-day, would qualify much more than I would. Two users who would fit this description would be "naomi_log" and "lotus82", I'd suggest you run this by them for their input.
Apr. 17th, 2008 04:53 pm (UTC)
Do you mind if I add you? It's just somehow comforting knowing that she spent some of her final moments with you.
Apr. 17th, 2008 10:55 pm (UTC)
Yes, Kala, that's great, thank you, added you back.
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 19th, 2008 12:23 pm (UTC)
Wow, colors, all of a sudden, all these deleted messages!...and yes, I did get it in my LJ inbox.

Yep, got your Email addy here, will Gmail you in a bit, would love to set up our connection that way.
( 37 comments — Leave a comment )