Student Spreads Message of Hope, Unity After Losing Cousin to Suicide

By Briana Smith, Spectrum News, Syracuse
To watch, please click here: Student Spreads Message of Hope, Unity After Losing Cousin to Suicide on Spectrum News

“Ryan was the bubbliest, happiest person you ever met,” said Rachel Fish, a Le Moyne College senior.

But behind Ryan Kehoe’s smile hid sorrow.

“He had a history of dealing with depression and anxiety,” said Fish. “Unfortunately, he tried to get help and he stopped getting help eventually.”

That sadly led to his suicide in 2012. Fish said her cousin was just 23-years-old.

“I was 15 at the time,” Fish said. “We grew up together. We were very close. So, for quite a few years it was difficult for me to deal with that.”

Now Fish is carrying on his legacy, while helping those suffering.

She, along with others, lit candles to remember victims at the college’s vigil Tuesday on World Suicide Prevention Day.

“New York State has one of the highest numbers of completed suicide,” said Stephanie Grandjean, a Contact Crisis Intervention Services assistant director. “Onondaga County, when compared to other counties in New York state is higher than the national average.”

Experts say those numbers continue to rise.

“It’s often not one thing that causes a person to think of suicide,” said Grandjean. “It’s many things layered on top of each other. Some of things we hear commonly is a sense of isolation. I think there’s an increased amount of stress.”

Those are health conditions that can affect anyone, and need to be addressed.

“Not keep it pushed under the rug,” said Evan Davis, a Le Moyne College Wellness Center Public Health intern. “Come forward and say ‘yes, this is what happened, this is what I struggled with.’ So, that we all need to come together and make a conscious effort and do something about it.”

“It’s okay to have rough days,” said Fish. “It’s okay to go through this. We’re here for you and there’s always someone there for you.”

It’s an important message Fish learned after her loss.

“We were best friends growing up,” Fish said. “So, I hope I’m making him proud.”

She’s spreading it to the world to save lives and honor her cousin.

Contact Community Services experts say suicide is the second leading cause of death for those 15 to 24 year-olds.

If you or someone you know needs help, contact their counseling, crisis and suicide hotline at (315) 251-0600.