This story discusses suicide. If you or someone you know is in crisis, call 988 to reach the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. You can also call the network, previously known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, at 800-273-8255, text HOME to 741741 or visit SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional resources.
An 8-year-old girl in Wisconsin is raising money for suicide prevention as she processes her father’s death.
Kyleigh Brunette was 6 when her dad, Jordan Wakefield passed away in 2019. A few months ago, Kyleigh’s mother, Brittany Brunette-Thimmesch, sat her daughter down and explained how he died.
“From day one, she was asking ‘how?’ and I’d say, ‘I don’t know. We have to wait for the police to figure it out,'" Brunette-Thimmesch, 30, told TODAY Parents. “She was way too young to comprehend and understand what happened. I didn’t want her to get feelings of like, ‘Why wasn’t I enough?’”
In March, Brunette-Thimmesch decided that Kyleigh was ready to hear the truth.
“Kyleigh came home from school upset because some of the kids were questioning her about how her dad died,” Brunette-Thimmesch said. “So we crawled into my bed and had a very hard conversation.”
Brunette-Thimmesch had preemptively consulted with therapists about what to say for when the time came. She told Kyleigh that Wakefield had an illness and that even though he didn’t look sick on the outside, he was sick.
Kyleigh, just like Brunette-Thimmesch who co-parented with Wakefield, was stunned to learn that he was struggling with depression.
“She said, ‘Mom, he was always happy. I made him happy,’” Brunette-Thimmesch recalled.
“I miss everything about him,” Kyleigh said. “I miss him telling silly jokes. I miss him bringing me to school in the mornings and tucking me in at night.”
“He adored Kyleigh,” Brunette-Thimmesch said. “She’s an avid soccer player and he was at every single game. Jordan loved her with everything he had.”
Earlier this month, Kyleigh announced that she wanted to have a lemonade stand to raise money for charity. Brunette-Thimmesch suggested the Humane Society. But Kyleigh had other ideas.
“She said, ‘No. I want to donate the funds to someone that needs the kind of help my dad needed,’” Brunette-Thimmesch recalled.
Kyleigh went on to raise $800 for Mental Health America Lakeshore, a local nonprofit mental health resource center, that has played a large role in her family’s healing.
“People came for lemonade and some shared personal stories about their own struggles," Brunette-Thimmesch said. "Kyleigh knows how hard it is to lose a parent to suicide. She says she doesn't want anyone to feel the pain she feels every day."Related Video: