Toronto

'The pattern needs to stop,' stepsister of Woodstock teen suicide victim says

Woodstock, Ont., family members spoke to CBC News about the effect of suicide on their children, their siblings, their community - and themselves.
Jada Downing speaks at a rally in Woodstock, Ont. (John Rieti/CBC)

Woodstock, Ont., teen Jada Downing lost her 17-year-old stepsister to suicide last month. Today, she will take part in a walkout of students from five high schools in hopes she can dissuade others from making the same choice.

​"It kinda felt like I was being stabbed in the heart a thousand times," said Downing about the moment she heard of Kristi Wilkinson's death on May 28.

"I do believe that if she had reached out to someone, someone would have been able to help her."

Up to 300 other high school students are expected to take part in the walkout in the southwestern Ontario city of 37,000 where Kristi and four other young took their lives this year. Students hope to raise awareness about what they say has been a failure for school boards to take action to address the suicide crisis. 
Jada Downing, left, said she had "no idea" her stepsister Kristi, 17, was considering suicide. 'I do believe that if she had reached out to someone, someone would have been able to help her.' (CBC)

Jada said she had no idea her stepsister was in such a serious state of distress, and knows other teens are facing similar struggles.

"Even the day of, she was happy, she was smiling," Jada said in an interview with CBC's News Network on Tuesday morning.

"Kristi was my best friend and I feel like this is something I have to do," she said about taking part in the walkout, where she also plans to share her family's story. "I want people to feel like they are worthy because Kristi was, but obviously didn't think she was. The pattern needs to stop."

Clarifications

  • An earlier version of this story said Kristi had sought help for mental health illness but family members dispute this.
    Jun 07, 2016 8:38 PM ET

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