Kyle was the beloved son and first child of Cliff Jurkiewicz and kindred spirit to Gina, Cliff's wife.
Born in Philadelphia, Kyle was diagnosed in 1997 with Leukemia. He spent the next 5 years fighting for life while watching his only friends die - other kids at St. Christopher's Hospital for Children - as they succumbed to their cancers. Finally being declared in remission in 2002 Kyle tried to move forward.
The toll on him physically was immense, but the psychological effect was deep and unknown to us.
For a while, Kyle seemed happy, until his high school years. Introverted, gender-confused and highly creative, Kyle found it difficult to fit in. His daily routine included a heavy dose of being bullied and eventually he began to withdraw and turned to self-medicating.
Kyle was diagnosed bi-polar at age 13. The cycle of medication and doctors was never-ending.
Still, Kyle fought, as so many of our loved ones do, to find his place and for his life. He was well supported by his immediate family and a few close friends. He often would be the hand that reached out first to those who also felt lost. His heart was always the biggest part of who he was as a human being.
Kyle would often drive hours to pick up a friend, and get them to a doctor, or into rehab. If you needed someone, to just be there, Kyle would drop it all just to hang with you and make sure you're okay. He hated being alone, and never wanted anyone else to feel that way.
In late 2019, Kyle showed signs of serious, positive progress. He was holding down a decent job, started to support himself and was enrolled in college. Things seemed to be cautiously moving in the right direction.
In early 2020, an unprecedented pandemic hit – as we all know. Kyle lost meaningful work, direct access to his doctors, to needed medication and access to his support system was limited or at times, all but cut off. The isolation simply became too much. He started to cycle down into a deep depression.
As most individuals with a mental health disease, he desperately and silently, sought relief from the pain and thoughts that plagued him, the night terrors that kept him from getting any meaningful rest and the desire to end his life. This is the real tragedy of living with a mental illness.
On June 3, 2020, my beautiful son Kyle, was found dead in a hotel room outside of Baltimore.
In that moment, he slipped away from us forever.
We believe it wasn't just his illness that drove his death, it was loneliness. For all who suffer in silence, there is a need to be brought together with those that love them.
In Kyle's memory, we will find a way to do just that.
A 1 hour flight costs roughly $100. Please help a family connect with their loved one in treatment.