YouTube star Stevie Ryan loses life to suicide after death of grandfather
By: Monica Drake
I just finished listening to "Mentally Ch(ill)," a podcast about depression by YouTube star Stevie Ryan and comedian Kristen Carney. And I've never felt a silence so palpable as when they said their final "Bye" and the podcast ended...because that's the last word listeners will ever hear from Stevie Ryan. Only two days after the podcast aired, Stevie lost her life to suicide.
The duo recorded the episode about a month earlier — the day Stevie heard the news that her grandpa died. Stevie said on the podcast, “I’m just worried that this is going to send me into a deeper depression. ... I’m totally off my anti-depressants right now.”
"You can never really prepare yourself for death. It's the hardest thing I've ever dealt with in my entire life."
Now those close to Stevie are experiencing the hardest thing they've ever dealt with in their lives — the death of their friend/family member at only 33 years old.
It is unknown if Stevie's grandfather's death ultimately lead to her suicide. But, a week before her death, she posted on Instagram, "I'll meet you in Percebo, soon. I love you my Papa." Percebo is where her grandparents had a beach house in Mexico, and, every summer, she would stay there with him for three months. Stevie said that this was where her grandfather showed her "Heaven on Earth."
In the podcast, Stevie said, "I feel like, if only it were me instead of my grandfather that it would be so much easier for my family."
But, I can say, with 100% certainty, that Stevie's death was not easier for her family, and I wish she could've known that. As her co-host, Kristen Carney, said in response, "He lived a full life. The tragedy would be more so if they lost you because you have your whole life ahead of you."
I wish she would have listened to Kristen's words. I wish she would've known how many people admired her and loved her. Upon hearing of her death, actor Drake Bell, Stevie's ex-boyfriend, said, "Please wake me from this nightmare. Stevie Ryan, I loved you and will forever miss you!” Full Frontal writer Travon Free said, "Stevie Ryan offered me my first TV writing job. She was a truly amazing and talented person. So so heartbreaking."
Countless fans took to Twitter to mourn Stevie. Hailey McClure wrote, "She was so full of wit and exuberance." Lorraine Tran tweeted, "Thank you (for) encouraging young women to be themselves and to be empowered and honest." User @SoapHud said, "I'm not okay with knowing Stevie Ryan is gone. I'm so heart broken. She was such a beautiful, bright, role model."
But the thing is, depression distorts your mind. Instead of realizing how loved you are, depression makes you feel worthless.
It is common for people to experience a depressed mood when a family member dies, but, for someone who has previously been diagnosed with clinical depression, death can cause a relapse. According to Cancer.org, about 1 in 5 bereaved people will develop major depression. And HAVING depression is completely different from FEELING depressed after a death.
Some symptoms of depression are being unable to perform day-to-day activities, intense guilt and constant thoughts of death or suicide. HealthLine reports that the difference between grief and depression are that depression is constant, while grief comes in waves. People with depression will, often, isolate themselves, while people with grief will accept help from others. And, someone who is grieving can probably still to go to work or school while, when someone has depression, symptoms can be so severe that they are unable to do such tasks.
As someone with anxiety disorder, I can understand how death can be a trigger for someone already suffering or prone to mental illness. Death is something I've dealt with from a young age - the death of five uncles, one aunt and all of my grandparents by the time I was a teenager. Death was something, as a kid, I would think about obsessively, and, even now, with the help of meds, it's something I probably think about more than most people.
Hearing about Stevie's death earlier this month, it made me think about when (most likely) my parents, who are in their 70s, die before me, how will I react? For Stevie, she described her grandfather as her "rock." For me, my parents are my rock, and I can almost guarantee that I will develop major depressive disorder when this day comes. If I'm being honest, hearing Stevie talk about her grandpa's death, I couldn't help but wonder, If something happens to my parents, will I react the way Stevie did?
I hope that I wouldn't, but I do get it, completely. So, here's some advice that, someday, I'll need you to remind me when the time comes. If you are grieving after the death of a loved one and you are experiencing symptoms of depression, please know that that's not just normal mourning. Get help immediately. There are many therapists who specialize in grief. To find a grief therapist, visit therapists.psychologytoday.com/grief. If you have thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.
Just because someone you loved's life is over, it doesn't mean yours is. Like Kristen said, your whole life is ahead of you.