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‘Kristin’s Story’ raises awareness about suicide, depression

More than 300 students packed the Union Ballroom on Sunday night to listen to “Kristin’s Story,” an account of rape and suicide.

Andrea Cooper, the mother of Kristin Cooper who was raped and committed suicide, was contacted by the University to tell her daughter’s story.

“I’m just so happy I could be here,” Cooper said.

Cooper, smiling with an upbeat attitude, began her daughter’s story with a brief history about Kristin, who had suffered from depression since middle school.

In October of 1995, Kristin returned home from college after a bad break-up, showing outward signs of depression, Cooper said.

“Her depression stretched through October and November of that year,” she said. “Finally when Christmas came she seemed happier.”

However, after looking back on that year, Cooper told the crowd she realized that her daughter must have been masking her pain.

While the majority of the audience were women of various sororities, several men of the University attended as well.

“It was very powerful,” said Matt Green, a University junior. “It felt good to be here to support something like this.”

In January of the following year, Andrea Cooper and her husband returned home from a night out and discovered their daughter lying on the floor of their living room.

Initially, Cooper assumed her daughter had passed out from drinking, but after calling out to her, she received no response and didn’t notice any signs of life.

“At that point, I was really starting to worry,” Cooper said.

Approaching their daughter, the Coopers realized Kristin had no pulse, wasn’t breathing and a gun was sitting next to her body, prompting her mother to call 911, she said.

Kristin shot herself with her father’s pistol, which had been hidden away in a lock box in her father’s closet.

Student suicides like Kristin’s can be common at universities, said Kristen Holliday, who helped host the event.

“Right now suicide is prevalent on our campus,” Holliday said. “There have been two suicides on campus in the past year and they’re not just statistics, they’re people.”

Cooper held back tears and told the audience what was going through her mind on the day she lost Kristin.

“The worst feeling in the world is knowing your daughter is dead,” Cooper said. “My husband and I were just sobbing by her body.”

The police arrived at the scene and discovered a journal near Kristin’s body, but refused to let her parents read the journal until it had been processed as evidence.

Police initially treat a suicide as a possible homicide, Cooper told the audience.

“They were by-the-book police officers,” she said. “It took my husband and I two weeks before we finally worked up enough courage to get her journal and read it.”

Cooper read Kristin’s journal cover-to-cover and discovered that her daughter had been raped in August of 1995.

“A blackness has come over me, what is left of my soul?” Cooper said, quoting the journal Kristin wrote.

Cooper contacted several of Kristin’s friends at college and asked if they knew of the rape or her depression following the discovery in the journal.

Kristin’s friends confirmed what the journal indicated, that Kristen had been raped by a close friend. It was revealed through Kristin’s journal that her boyfriend broke up with her because of the rape.

“Apparently Kristin’s depression became so bad that her entire [sorority] house knew about it,” Cooper said.

After confirming the story with several of Kristin’s friends, Cooper was looking for a way to get justice for what allegedly led to her daughter’s suicide.

“I wanted to get revenge through the police but they said there was nothing to do,” Cooper said. “The accuser needs to be able to face the [victim] and at that point it was impossible.”

Telling “Kristin’s Story” for the past 14 years has helped with the healing process, she said.

“You can’t get through depression on your own,” Cooper said. “I’m hoping I can help some of those in this room tonight.”

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