Kody’s Story

As told by his mother Victoria Stinnett

Kody was born in 2003. I was 40 years old. He was… he is my baby. I have four kids. I have another son, Robby, who passed away from fentanyl poisoning in 2018.  He was 38. Kody passed on April 11, 2021. He had just turned 17. 

He was very serene baby. Never a problem. He had beautiful blonde curly hair. I do childcare in my home. So he grew up with all ages of children played with kids every day. When he went to school I remember the first two weeks he cried and cried. He did not want to get on that bus. I don’t know if I traumatized him. I think back and I’m like, Oh my God, is that why? I’m like, Why did I make him do that? I should have went with him. He was very, very sensitive. Like, if you even reprimanded him when he was little, he would just get so teary eyed, even if he didn’t really do anything wrong. That’s how sensitive he was. 

He always had to wash his hands. I remember when he was younger. He did not like germs. He would wash his hands like if he would touch the babies or any of the little kids. And he didn’t want to touch the doorknob in the daycare room. I have like a Dutch door and he would jump over the door – you know,  just so he wouldn’t have to touch it again. But he was a good boy, an around good kid. Honors in school. He never had had any problems with mental health or anything that we knew of back then. 


Kody was an avid gamer. He beat all his friends on the PC games, and he played a lot of computer games. He started when he was little with Webkinz and Club Penguin, Minecraft and when he got older, Brawhalla. Gosh, I can’t even think of them all. There’s so many of them. He played and he would whip all his friends, but that’s how good he was. 

He was supposed to start the Career Center in high school and take a computer thing at the Career Center since he was so good at computers. And he was good at coding. But of course COVID hit. So we had his brother’s death and we had COVID, and then eight months later his grandmother passed away, and she lived next door to us and they were really close. And then we had a Labrador pass away that we had for 13 years. It was just so many things. 

During that COVID year, he was talking to a girl that lived all the way in California online for about a year and we never even knew it until he passed away. So I think you have a broken heart too. You know?



We were like blindsided by the suicide. We knew that he was depressed and he even asked for therapy, which was like wow. And he went for like three months. Then he decided it wasn’t helping him so he didn’t want to go anymore. I had another neurologist set up for him, but of course, around that time, with COVID, you had a long wait. Once we had a virtual appointment set up and he just ran out of the house. He said there’s nothing wrong with me. He got kind of agitated.

Kody’s very smart and he always would look up everything online. And he literally diagnosed himself.  He says “Mom, I think I have BPD.” That’s borderline personality disorder. He even told the therapist that she’s like, “No, you don’t have that Kody, honey.”

She should have, I just wish she would have asked him if he was suicidal at the very beginning. There’s that form they fill out and of course he said no. Right. And of course I know if they don’t want you to know, they’re not going to let you know. But that is one of the tops in terms of borderline personality disorder. So I just feel like, I mean, she never conversed with us about anything really.

I feel like I want to contact her sometime though. I don’t know. I just feel like she was just trying to help him do self-care. She did diagnose him though. I did see something that said depression and grief. But grief could be a girl too, you know?


He started having trouble in school during the COVID pandemic. A lot of kids, I think, had trouble with that. But like the counselor at the school, they knew he wasn’t doing very much schoolwork during COVID. Like I said he was an honor student, but it was I just figured it was just too hard for him because it was on a computer and he’s more hands on. And he just couldn’t do it. He just stopped doing it. He was I guess, so depressed he couldn’t concentrate.

So I was trying to get with the counselor and the therapists to get papers signed, so he could have someone come to my home two or three days a week to homeschool him and at least he would have been seen by somebody. Maybe he would have reached out. But they didn’t, nothing ever came of that. 

I think he had OCD too. And I know in his mind he kept ruminating as well like all the losses and the girlfriend, and his mind just wouldn’t stop.

At what would have been Kody’s graduation, I  ordered t-shirts for some of his classmates. We went to the graduation and they had the open chair and I had a photo. I made buttons for the kids to wear on their graduation gowns. I painted rocks and had the kids hide them around the high school. I do others now for parents with their child’s name and have them hidden with a note on the back to let us know where they’re found. I do that in his honor.

It’s like they say, if love could have saved them, they’d all be here. 


I got ahold of his phone, some of his messages and that’s how I found out a lot of the stuff. So that was heartbreaking again all in itself to read all those messages like about three months ago. Some of those were just so heartbreaking.

And she knew (the girl in California). She knew that he was suicidal. He kind of told her, Well, they’ll put me in a hospital and put me away. I think that was his way of getting her not to say anything and he might have thought that. You know if you’ve never dealt with the health care system or the mental health system. It is a scary thing to consider. Particularly at that age.

Even though she lives so far away, he just I guess with everything going on his mind just wasn’t thinking straight because you know, like he thought they were going to be together forever or something. Because that was like his first girlfriend. 

I read one of his texts to another friend. It was another girl but not the girlfriend. And it must have been a week or so before he was talking about it. And she says, “Well, think about your family, they’ll be devastated.” And he replied something like, “Well, you know, I never really thought about my family. Because then I probably wouldn’t go through with it” or something like that. They don’t even think about us at that time.

One of his friends that was a guy said, “Well, Kody, please stay.” He says, “Well, maybe just for my mom, I’ll try.” And then it was like a week later, he was gone. I just wish someone would have said “Hey, Mrs. Stinnett, this is going on.” People just need to speak up and know how to tell somebody.

He told a bunch of friends, like he was like texting friends that he hung out at school with before COVID and was like was reminiscing and sending them music that they listened to and said how much fun they had at lunch. So they were kind of all getting concerned. It was a whole group of them. And one of them finally told a parent and they called the police. 

Between the police getting a call and them knocking on my door, I don’t know why no one called us while the police were traveling to my home because he was still alive. It happened when the police were there. We were knocking on his door. It was locked, and then my husband heard the noise. How horrible is that? It’s horrible. I just feel like if they would have called us in between. It could have been 15 minutes. We could have tried to save him before the police got here. Like when they called 911, they should have called us right away. Are you in the home? Not like when the police are knocking on our door. 

Kody told the wrong people. He didn’t tell any adults. He didn’t tell the therapist. And the therapist I feel like should have probed a little harder.

I told Kody, we could do another therapist, but he just didn’t want to do it. 


He had friends that told me Kody had helped them out of hard, hard spots, you know, if some of them were depressed. But that’s how Kody was, he was like a peacemaker. He kind of took everybody’s darkness and nobody helped him. You know what I mean? He was like, he was an Earth Angel. That’s the best way to describe Kody. 

He was loving and had so much empathy. He wanted to work at a shelter. That’s what he wanted to do. Like I said, I had day care, and he was so good with all the babies and everything. He was just so loving and kind and his heart was so kind I think this world was just too much for him. I mean, as far as his poor little heart, and it just dragged him down into this deep dark hole. 

I just wish he would have told us his feelings. Then we could have helped him. He didn’t even like have a chance to get on medication. I think he would have been okay if he would have gotten on a mood stabilizer or something.

The doctor he saw for three months, he would have thought she would have prescribed him something, and he just gave up and that was it. I think he’d just gotten that mindset. He was going to do it and he had a shotgun because he liked the target practice. So he got to our gun safe and got a hold of it. 


One of his friends wrote a long letter at his first year anniversary thing we had at the gravesite, and his best friend got a tattoo. I can’t believe it, like two days later after the memorial service. This boy had moved to Florida with his parents. So he traveled from Florida to Maryland to talk at his service. He got to Florida two days after the memorial service and got the tattoo. He was a year older than Kody. The tattoo is a cherry blossom because they were supposed to go see the cherry blossoms in D.C. and it has Kody’s name on it and his date of birth and death. 

He told me, and a bunch of the other boys told me, that Kody had really helped them with really hard times. He always made everyone laugh. They said that’s what they miss the most when they talk about him is his laughter. He just made them laugh. He would send silly things on Snapchat and stuff and it would just make everybody laugh. 


I stopped doing childcare. I haven’t worked in over a year. Well, I have a real estate license. I’ve been trying to get into that, 

I have a 24-year-old son, and in the very beginning he blamed us for the longest time. He lives here with us. He blamed us for everything. Like he said we didn’t teach him coping skills. We had bought him a gun. Everybody’s gonna blame someone, so we just let them blame us, you know, which was hard. 

He hasn’t worked in a year. He’s done little side jobs. Like I said he’s 24 and he I mean he seems to be okay, but I kind of feel like he’s not, I guess. Of course he’s not. I offered to take him to therapy and I paid for it and he says we need a therapist. He does a lot of reading and stuff. I’m not sure it’s on grief, but he’s pretty headstrong, you know? 

My daughter is 26, and she’s doing okay, she keeps busy. She makes clothes and stuff and sells them online. I just feel like it kind of tore us apart a little bit. I think that’s the nature of it. 

Some families, it seems they get closer, but I don’t feel that. I mean, it’s getting better, but it’s been a year, so it’s gonna take time. They don’t like to talk about it too much. Like my daughter will be like, “Oh, don’t mention Kody today.” I guess it makes her too upset still. I mean, when she wants to she’ll bring them up, Kody and Robby. You know, the happy things but no one wants to talk about any of the negative things that happened, even my husband. He’s like, I don’t want to hear nothing negative, but sometimes I need to get it out, you know? 

We have so much guilt because I know my kids even have guilt because they feel like they should have done more with their little brother and of course, as a parent, we feel guilt. You think well, did I do wrong? You second guess every little moment in their life.

It’s like they say, if love could have saved them, they’d all be here. 

Published by Tim Rowden

The Grief Project is dedicated to sharing the stories of suicide loss survivors as well as information and research on suicide, mental health, advocacy and prevention. I’m a suicide loss survivor, husband, father, writer and journalist, with 33 years experience as a reporter and editor. I believe sharing our stories can help help others who are struggling, whether they are loss survivors or struggling with depression or other mental health issues. We honor them and honor our loved ones by sharing our stories.

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