Sign up for our free weekday bulletin.

“Her future was so bright”

Published on

Kailee Kavanaugh, 19, took her own life. Now, her devastated family and friends are teaming up to help others.



Tara Jeffrey —

Kailee Kavanaugh’s life was the picture of perfection.

On the outside, she had great friends and family, a passion for track and field, a part-time job, and plans to attend Lambton College in the fall.

But on the inside, she was quietly drowning in depression, which for most of her life had gone unnoticed.

“She really had everything going for her,” said mom, Terri Kavanaugh. “Her future was so bright.

“She just couldn’t see it.”

Kailee’s battle with mental illness ended on June 30 when she took her own life, at age 19. She had fought so hard, for so long, but the demons won.

She explained everything in a note to her brother Kyle. He was her hero.

“The longer it manifests, the darker you get,” said Kavanaugh, who has spent the past few weeks trying to piece together a puzzle that, in hindsight, revealed tiny clues over the years that something was wrong.

“I wish someone had told me all this,” said Kavanaugh, who has since immersed herself in education on depression, its signs, symptoms and effects. “Because, my precious daughter would be alive today.”

And while she’s still struggling to understand it all, Kavanaugh knows her daughter’s death won’t be in vain. She’s teaming up with Kailee’s best friend, Sereena Nahmabin, in hopes of preventing another tragedy that’s become all too common in Sarnia.

“We’ve lost so many young people to suicide these past few years,” said Nahmabin, 19. “And after losing my best friend, I decided, ‘That’s it. I need to do something.’”

Together, they’ve chosen not to shy away from the fact Kailee’s life ended with suicide. They put up posters at her funeral listing the signs and symptoms of depression, and where to get help — knowing that so many vulnerable young people would be there to see.

This month, they’ll host a 5K Run/Walk in Canatara Park, to raise awareness about mental health. The event will include community representatives from groups like The Jack Project and the Canadian Mental Health Association. Donations to St. Clair Child & Youth will be accepted. Participants are encouraged to show up wearing green, on Aug. 23 at 10 a.m. at the cannon.

“It’s important to educate those who love these people that are depressed,” said Kavanaugh. “You might think they’re just being lazy and have no ambition, but that’s not the case.

“Suicide is still taboo to talk about, but it shouldn’t be.”

Kavanaugh and Nahmabin say they know Kailee would have wanted them to tell her story. She would have wanted them to save others, even though she couldn’t save herself.

“This run — it’s just the beginning. I don’t want to lose anyone else,” said Nahmabin, noting that it’ll be a long, hard road without her best friend — the girl that used to push her around in a shopping cart when things got a little goofy.

“She is watching over us, I know it. And she wouldn’t want us to crumble.”


WHAT: 5K Walk/Run for Mental Health Awareness, in memory of Kailee Kavanaugh

WHEN: Sunday, Aug. 23, 10 a.m.

WHERE: Canatara Park; meet at the cannon

DETAILS: Donations can be made to St. Clair Child & Youth

Terri Kavanaugh and Sereena Nahmabin are organizing an informational walk/run in memory of Terri's daughter Kailee, who took her own life on June 30. Glenn Ogilvie
Terri Kavanaugh and Sereena Nahmabin are organizing an informational walk/run in memory of Terri’s daughter Kailee, who took her own life on June 30.
Glenn Ogilvie

If you, or someone you know, needs help, please contact:

Canadian Mental Health Association, Lambton-Kent

210 Lochiel St., Sarnia


Family Counselling Centre, Distress Line



Lambton Mental Health Service Distress Line

(Available 24/7 including holidays)

519-336-3445 or 1-800-307-4319

Kids Help Phone



More like this