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Mother: Cooper's suicide not in vain

staff writer

Published: Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Updated: Wednesday, February 5, 2014 23:02

It was a friend who raped Kristin Cooper on Aug. 4, 1995. Five months later, it was her mother who found her dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Her mother, Andrea Cooper, presented the Kristen’s Story Tuesday evening in the Taggart Student Center to raise awareness of acquaintance rape among USU students.

“The number one issue for our office is awareness,” Sexual Abuse and Anti-Violence Information intern Ian Hanock said. “The national average is one in five college women are sexually assaulted. Most people don’t think it, but that holds pretty true to our campus as well.”

The event was organized by Mandy LaPatriello, Alpha Chi Omega president, and M.E. Culbertson, vice president of philanthropy as part of the sorority's Lyre Fest activities.

“Only three colleges got the grant out of 12 applicants, and this is her last tour,” Culbertson said.

Cooper’s presentation began with her describing her daughter’s life as a college student.

“She wanted to be noticed,” Cooper said. “She wanted to be more than a number. She had a wonderful time at Baker (University). She chose Alpha Chi Omega, and it was wonderful for Kristin.”

However, Cooper noticed her daughter exhibiting signs of depression when she returned home for Thanksgiving break, three months after the rape.

“She cried the whole time,” Cooper said. “She stayed in her room. She didn’t want to see her high school friends. She would retreat to her room and her journal and would be crying. I thought, ‘OK, she is severely depressed, and when she comes home for Christmas, I’m going to have her see a counselor.’”

According to Cooper, by the time her daughter came home for winter break, she appeared to have recuperated from her depression.

“Do any of you know why she was so happy?” Cooper asked the audience. “She had already made the decision. After she died, I found a three-page suicide note in her journal that she had written in October.”

It was after a New Year’s Eve party in 1995 when Cooper found her daughter’s body.

“We got to the middle of the house and I could see Kristin in the family room, and she was lying on her back like she was sound asleep,” Cooper said. “The music was just blasting from the speaker in our living room. I said to Kristin, ‘That music is awfully loud isn’t it?’ I thought she had too much to drink and had passed out.

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