Eric Peter Verbeeck, a Key Biscayne youth transitioning to a girl named Hope, killed herself nine days ago. Howard Cohen has her story:
“He left behind a letter, the most beautiful letter you could imagine, and it was on his pillow,” Eric’s mother said. “I got up and realized I didn’t see him in my apartment.”
The letter began: “Dear Mommy and Papa, I am so sorry to do this to you but I have killed myself by jumping off the top floor …”
Eric was always precise, Verbeeck said.
“I could no longer live my life as a lie,” her letter continued. “I’m so sorry I lied to you. I was losing hope in the world and could not see my way out of the wrong body so I decided it was time for my life to end. Please forgive me for any sins I committed.”
Verbeeck: “He didn’t have any sins. I never used the word sin with him.”
The child who loved to attend Broadway and London musical theater shows, who had a beloved dog named Rocky, who started performing at 6 and already had a favorite role — The Mad Hatter from “Alice in Wonderland” — and who “planned out trips to the tiniest detail,” was equally precise in her last wishes.
She didn’t want her parents, who were separated, to argue. She wanted her ashes split between her parents.
The statistics for adolescents who kill themselves as a result of sexual confusion , included in the story, are stark. According to Hope’s mom, she had given her child as much empathy and patience. It wasn’t enough. In an era when psychology can explain most conditions, suicide remains the great abyss into which education and empathy stare, helplessly.
Hug your kids tonight.