The death of a child is the most painful burden a parent can bear, and it never gets easier to deal with. For some parents, a sense of closure comes in the form of investigations and autopsies; for others, it never really seems to come at all. To many of us, it might seem easier for parents to handle news of a child’s death if there were hints or signs beforehand. But moms and dads can never truly prepare for what it’s like to lose a child, no matter how old they are and no matter the circumstances.
But between freak accidents, vicious attackers, and the skyrocketing rate of kids and teens who self-harm, our kids are at a greater risk than ever of passing away before their time. No parent would ever condemn another to losing a child- those who have experienced it have never known worse pain.
These tragic stories include children’s haunting final messages to family, friends, and at times, people they only thought they truly knew. Although these families are now missing their children, their children’s last words may offer slight comfort as a reminder of who they were and the impact of their short lives.
15 Church Trips Claims One Life
17-year-old Sarah Harmening was on a bus ride heading toward a 10-day mission trip in Botswana when her life tragically ended. The teen was the only fatality of the crash, which happened when the church-chartered bus drifted into oncoming traffic. Nine people were injured but Sarah’s was the only death, and the remainder of the 37 passengers were not harmed.
Sarah had been writing in her journal during the bus ride, shortly before she was killed, explaining that she felt sad she was going to be gone so long, but also reminding herself that “[God] has done this for a reason, so I know he’s going to do incredible things.” However, WCPO Cincinnati also reported that earlier in the day, Sarah had texted friends a Bible verse along with a note about her faith, saying “I want to dedicate the one moment I’m here completely and entirely to [God].”
14 Teen Cheated Death Three Times
Ben Breedlove was born with a heart condition, and by the time he was in his teens, he’d had three near-death experiences. With his two YouTube channels and a bubbly personality, Ben enjoyed giving relationship advice and sharing information about his life via his videos. His first time cheating death was when he was four, ABC News reported, and the second was when he went into cardiac arrest during a tonsil surgery.
The third was weeks before he ultimately succumbed to the condition which made his life so fragile to begin with. But Ben wasn’t afraid: two new videos uploaded to his YouTube channel documented his prior near-death experiences, and Ben explained that he wasn’t afraid to go, since he was proud of what he’d done in life. He passed away at age 18, at home with his parents.
13 Flu-Like Symptoms Cover Up Heart Condition
Elaine Walsh and her son Patrick were close- so close, in fact, that they often sent each other messages throughout the day even while Patrick was in California and his mom was at home in the UK. So when she realized she hadn’t heard from him for some time and he was unresponsive to her messages and calls, Elaine began to panic.
Patrick’s final message to his mother was an apology for not responding to a previous message, because “Having the flu and going to work really took it out of me,” he wrote. Unbeknownst to both Patrick and his mother, he likely had an underlying heart condition that caused flu-like symptoms. Days later, Patrick died from cardiac arrest, alone in his California apartment. Elaine wants people to know that someone important died, she explained, and keeps Patrick’s memory alive through projects that help people with heart problems.
12 Haunting Selfie Hints At What’s To Come
Teens (and younger kids) take hundreds of selfies and share almost that many online to express themselves. It’s almost a rite of passage for today’s adolescents. But teen Rina Palenkova’s selfie wasn’t your run-of-the-mill photograph. Wearing a coat, hat, and face scarf, she snapped the shot and then captioned the photo “Goodbye.” Shortly after, she committed suicide by stepping onto the tracks of an oncoming train. The driver saw Rina but wasn’t able to stop the train, and authorities reported that it didn’t appear to be an accident- the teen purposely moved toward the tracks when she saw the oncoming train.
Police say that the Russian teen was having relationship problems, the Mirror reported. Following Rina’s death, her ex-boyfriend posted to his social media page that he didn’t want people to contact him about her passing, and that it would cause him “psychological trauma” to discuss it.
11 Tragic “Game” Claims Lives
While Russian teen Rina Palenkova was reportedly the first casualty from a creepy “game” that teens began “playing,” kids around the world have gotten involved in online activities that threaten their safety. A girl, whose family requested Fox 8 keep anonymous, committed suicide seemingly without reason. The family reported that the girl seemed happy enough- she was very into art, didn’t go out much, and wasn’t interested in social media.
But after the girl’s death, her brother went through her room and found drawings of blue whales, along with sketches of Palenkova and other materials that suggested the girl was part of the “blue whale game,” which involves teens committing odd tasks, including self-harming and ultimately suicide. The girl had social media accounts her family never even knew about- and on those accounts, she posted photos of self-inflicted wounds and a simple “good bye” the morning of her death.
10 Snapchat And Texts Document Boys’ Last Days
Two teen boys, friends since they were 10, were fishing together on a family member’s boat when inclement weather pulled them farther out to sea than they’d planned. Austin Stephanos and Perry Cohen were both 14 at the time of their disappearance in 2015, The Epoch Times reported, and they were manning the boat without adult supervision.
Both families were devastated over the fact that the boys were never found, and shortly after their disappearance, any good feelings between the two families vanished. Now a court case against one boy’s mother alleges negligence, due to the fact that the boat the teens were on had no radio equipment. The families’ final messages from their boys came in the form of a couple conversational text messages and a snapchat that shows ominously dark clouds in the background of a photo, with a caption that suggested they were out of luck.
9 Hurricane Harvey Claims Young Victims
As Hurricane Harvey raged outside her home, 16-year-old Devy Saldivar posted on Facebook about her lack of sleep and anxiety over the storm. Hours later, she drowned inside her uncle’s van as he attempted to move the whole family to safety, the NY Post reported. Devy and her siblings, two younger brothers and a sister, along with their elderly grandparents, all passed away. Their uncle, the driver of the van, was able to escape out the window of the vehicle as it snagged against tree branches.
The family had to wait until the flood water receded to find the deceased children and their grandparents, but the vehicle was found with all six occupants still inside. The children’s mother, Mona, went out in a boat to try and find her children when the uncle initially reported the tragic event, and months later had difficulty maintaining her composure when discussing her children.
8 Ferry Full Of Children Sinks In South Korea
A ferry carrying 462 passengers and crew sank in South Korea as it attempted to reach a nearby island, CBC reported. Most of the passengers were high school students who, along with their teachers, were traveling to nearby Jeju Island for an overnight trip. As the ship began to tilt, the passengers aboard began sending frantic pleas for help and final messages to their loved ones.
One student sent messages to his mother saying that he was afraid he might not be able to tell her he loved her later, to which the mom responds with questions about what’s happening, and that she loves him too. Another student sent messages to his brother, who instructed his fearful sibling to stay calm and listen to the emergency response teams. The fate of that particular passenger was unknown, as over 300 people died in total during the disaster.
7 Teen Goes Missing After Sending Text
A teenager walking her dog went missing shortly after sending her boyfriend a panicked text, the Detroit Free Press reported. 14-year-old April Millsap was walking her dog when she sent her boyfriend a text message that read, “I think I almost got kidnapped omfg.” April had left the house at 6pm, sent the text to her boyfriend around 7pm, and never returned home.
By 8:30pm, the family dog, Penny, had alerted passersby to April’s presence just off the wooded trail she had been walking on. Authorities later tracked down James VanCallis, a local man who was later convicted of April’s murder. In court, it was indicated that VanCallis became angry when April ignored his advances, and the 34-year-old assaulted her, hitting her in the head with his motorcycle helmet and asphyxiating her. VanCallis was convicted and sentenced to life in prison without parole.
6 Dirt Biker Disappears Without A Trace
Todd “T.J.” Allen told his family he was going for a dirt bike ride near his home, but he never returned. An hour into his outing, he texted his girlfriend that he had just crashed, and that his leg hurt, Fox 61 reported. Over two weeks later, his murderer led authorities to Allen’s body.
According to details from the case, Patch reported, an acquaintance of Allen’s agreed to meet him to sell the teen marijuana. When the two met up, the suspect claimed, Allen pulled a gun on him. Kevin Weismore told police that he knocked the gun out of Allen’s hand and stabbed him to death, then covered up the evidence. Allen’s mom maintains that he wasn’t the type to just go off without checking in, so his disappearance was suspicious from the start.
5 Teen Faces Jail Time For Texts
People around the world were stunned following the death of Conrad Roy, a teen whose girlfriend supported and even bullied him into committing suicide. The girlfriend, Michelle Carter, was later charged with murder and found guilty due to her pressuring Roy into taking his own life. Although the teens’ long-distance relationship resulted in endless text messages between the two, the last few of Roy’s life are perhaps the most poignant.
Mass Live quoted messages from Roy, who told his then-girlfriend, “I want them to know that I love them,” about his family, who responded, “They know… Are you gonna do it now?” Roy’s last message to Carter was “Okay. I’m almost there,” a text that will forever haunt his family as they remained at home, oblivious to Roy’s plans and his girlfriend’s evil motives.
4 Bear Attack Halts Trail Race
An Alaska teen fell victim to a bear attack in the middle of a race, KTUU reported. 16-year-old Patrick Cooper was running a trail race one Father’s Day with his family, a run that happens yearly in their neighborhood. But mid-race, Cooper sent a text message to a family member that said he was being chased by a bear. Another runner reported seeing a bear, and a group of runners rushed to the teen’s aid.
The first people to find Patrick said that the bear was still guarding his body, and that no one on site had a weapon to drive it away with. There were also other bear sightings along the trail that day, and officials later killed at least four bears, one of which may have been responsible for the attack. Patrick Cooper was pronounced dead upon the arrival of emergency personnel.
3 Cell Phone Electrocutes Teen
Young teen Madison Coe often used her cell phone while in the bath, her father and stepmother told Inside Edition, but they always cautioned her against getting it too close to the water. The 14-year-old liked to listen to music or play games, but ultimately, using her phone in the bath led to the girl’s death.
Madison plugged her phone into a charger, which she then plugged into an extension cord to reach the bathroom’s outlet. The last message she sent from her cell phone was a picture of the setup, telling a friend what she had done so that she could use her phone while soaking in the bath. Authorities report that Madison died from electrocution because she touched a frayed part of the cord that had gotten water in it. Her parents allowed the release of their daughter’s last text message to warn other families.
2 Teachers Miss The Signs
13-year-old Evan Thompson was having a rough day at school. Throughout the day, his parents later found out, Evan had been unable to focus and was crying in class. His upset was so visible that multiple friends of his had spoken up, and staff at the school gave him a “hall pass” so that he could “compose himself,” the Lansing State Journal reported.
But none of that helped, and shortly after school let out, Evan walked across the campus to the train tracks that neighbor his school. He sent his mom a text message, saying “This is goodbye. You probably have already heard by now. Not all of it’s true. I’m sorry for being such a disappointment.” He thanked his mom and told her to say goodbye to his brother. Moments later, he stepped out in front of a train. Evan Thompson was pronounced dead before his parents arrived.
1 Final Note Proves That Bullying Is Serious
Sweet and quiet Daniel Fitzpatrick was picked on at school, so much so that he told teachers and his parents about what was happening. But things didn’t get better for the seventh grader, the Washington Post reported, citing a letter that Daniel wrote mere weeks before he committed suicide. Despite asking for help from school staff, Daniel explained, kids were still picking on him, excluding him, and even picking physical fights.
Following Daniel’s heartbreaking death, his school claimed that Daniel’s parents were drunks and that they abused him and his sisters, but the department of family services later provided written confirmation that those reports were unfounded. Daniel’s parents have been vocal about putting anti-bullying measures into place at all schools, and taking children’s struggles seriously, citing Daniel’s last words: “I want them to know what they did to me and how I feel. I want them to hear my story.”