Family and Friends Mourn 14-Year-Old Suicide Victim
Congress working to address national epidemic of teen suicide
ANCHORAGE - Katrina Marie Bryant was described as just one of the girls.
“She loved soccer,” said long-time friend Malia Russell. “She loved going to church with her aunt.”
Mary Sosnowski giggled and added how much her best friend loved to eat.
Russell and Sosnowski are just two of Bryant’s friends mourning her death. The 14-year-old committed suicide on January 18. Friday, her friends came together to remember the girl they called “everyone’s friend.”
“It will never be the same without her,” said Russell.
The West High freshman’s death is part of a national epidemic that lawmakers are trying to fight in Washington D.C.
“In the country the rate of suicide was 11.5 suicides per 100,000 people,” said Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski. “[In] Alaska we are looking at double that.”
Murkowski, with the help of other U.S. Senators, introduced a bill last week to help improve mental health services for young people in an effort to prevent teen suicide.
The Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act Reauthorization would make counseling more accessible for at-risk teens and promote development for early intervention and prevention strategies.
“The sad thing about it is there is no turning back once you make that decision,” said parent Teresa Zimmer.
Those who knew Byrant celebrated her life at Chugach Optional, where she attended elementary school. They hugged, cried and reminisced.
“She always had fun wherever she went,” said Russell. “And she could make a sad story, or moment, become funny again, or just happy and not make you feel bad about anything.”
Now, her friends, classmates and peers are struggling to understand why their friend, like so many other young Alaskans gave up on life.