Shana Chappell said her son, Dakota Halverson, took his own life earlier this month because “Losing his brother nearly one year ago has proven too difficult to bear”, in a message shared on GoFundMe.
On Friday, she said on Facebook how her son would “sneak into the cemetery at night” and sleep on the resting place of his brother Lance Cpl Kareem Nikoui, who was killed in an explosion at Kabul airport on 26 August 2021
“Dakota had been expressing some of the things that had been bothering him and one of those things was the loss of his brother Kareem and how he just wanted to be with him again,” his mother explained. “He was still having a hard time believing he was actually gone.”
Halverson took his own life not far from the memorial in their hometown in Norco, California, dedicated to Nikoui, Ms Chappell said before expressing her own guilt over the loss of a second son in connection with Afghanistan.
“I was so wrapped up in my own grief that I couldn’t see all the signs that were there!,” she said. “I’m not gonna make this a political post but this is the ripple effect! Now my kids have lost another brother. My family has lost another loving family member and Dakota’s friends have lost a true friend!,”
She finished by saying: “I’m still in shock over this and honestly when the shock wears off I don’t know how I am gonna pull through this.”
Halverson’s death came within weeks of the one year anniversary of the death of his brother, who had been helping US forces evacuate over 124,000 people from Kabul in the aftermath of the Taliban takeover of Kabul on 15 August 2021.
The takeover, which came within weeks of US troops leaving the country after 20 years and the 9/11 terror attacks, witnessed dire scenes as Afghans struggled to escape the country and a Taliban resurgence that was unanticipated by US President Biden and others.
Former US president Donald Trump was condemned over the withdrawal after he agreed to pull out American forces from Afghanistan in a deal with the Taliban, who celebrated the one year anniversary of their takeover on Monday
In February, an investigation into the attack that killed Nikoui found that it was not preventable because the suicide bomber, carrying 20 pounds of explosives and ball bearings, had acted alone.
More than 170 Afghans and 13 US service members, including Nikoui, were killed.
If you are based in the USA, and you or someone you know needs mental health assistance right now, call National Suicide Prevention Helpline on 1-800-273-TALK (8255). The Helpline is a free, confidential crisis hotline that is available to everyone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
If you are in another country, you can go to www.befrienders.org to find a helpline near you.