The last time Rabbi Jonathan Kligler saw 15-year-old Maya Gold was in August. She was a high school sophomore who planned on graduating from high school early. Less than two months later, the New York rabbi spoke at her funeral, where over 800 mourners paid their respects.
After Maya committed suicide on October 2, 2015, her parents pushed Kligler to share his heartbreaking eulogy for their daughter, in hopes to raise awareness on suicide and depression, as well as erase the stigma associated with suicide.
In particular, Kligler (who is senior scholar at the Woodstock Jewish Congregation) has learned that more people have been touched by a suicide than many realize–he understands only too well, as his own father committed suicide when Kligler was only 24. He stated in TODAY:
“The stigma and shame attached to suicide means that we do not usually share with others about the suicides we have been close to, or about our own attempts. If we don’t break the silence about suicide, if we don’t talk with one another about it, then we’ll never be able to help prevent it. I knew I had to take that opportunity to bring suicide into the light of day and make it a part of ordinary conversation.”
Maya’s parents, Elise Gold and Mathew Swerdloff, wrote a statement about her suicide, urging others to support each other not just in times of tragedy, but every day:
“Maya made a mistake. A mistake from which there is no retreat, no undoing, no return to a time before what has been done. That is where we begin to make sense of this. [Kligler’s eulogy] speaks to a way forward, a way to honor Maya’s life by cherishing our own lives and families, by listening and connecting with each other and by supporting each other. Please read it, share it and find your way in the web of receiving and offering support.”
Don’t forget to read Kligler’s full eulogy here. And to hold your loved ones extra close.