Reach out and don’t give up: Remembering Benjamin Ashley Nelson

Local News

BRANDON, S.D. (KELO) – Losing a loved one is difficult, and today, two sisters are sharing their thoughts on their sibling gone too soon.

“Benjamin Ashley was just a gentle, gentle soul,” sister Jessica Robbins said.

“He was always just making the funniest jokes and just so light-hearted and nice to everybody,” sister Emily Kuhnert said.

Sisters Jessica Robbins and Emily Kuhnert are talking about their sibling, Benjamin Ashley Nelson, who died by suicide at the age of just 26.

“My sibling was also transgender and possibly gender fluid. There’s a lot of narrow boxes that you’re put in to when you get a label and those labels just didn’t fit and I think there was a lot of struggle,” Robbins said.

Benjamin Ashley went by the preferred pronouns of they, them and theirs.

“I guess, you know, people may have an issue with that, that it wasn’t a female pronoun or that sort of thing, but anyone that would actually know Benjamin Ashley would know there’s more to it than just a label or a prounoun,” Robbins said.

And for the sisters, the qualities and notes that made up Benjamin Ashley were definitly more than just a label or a prounoun.

“Their whole life was music, everything revolved around guitars and writing music and friends that were in to music as well,” Kuhnert said.

In Benjamin Ashley’s obituary, written by the family, there is a call to action reminding others to send a little extra love to those who need it.

“It doesn’t matter what it is, people just need to be kind to one another and understanding and I think if there was more of that, I think that maybe we would have Benjamin Ashley here today. But we’ll never know, we’ll never have all the answers that we want and that’s okay. That’s okay,” Robbins said.

The sisters also want to remind others that simply reaching out can make a huge impact.

“Especially if they’re suicidal, if you know any of that, reach out and tell them your concerns, like name it, ask them if they’re having those thoughts of suicide because the more people talk about it, I mean, hopefully it will help someone. Hopefully it will help other people to not feel as stigmatized. Because I just wish I could’ve done something. And hopefully this will help,” Robbins said.

The sisters told us about an organization in Oregon named Don’t Give Up Signs which works to bring awareness to suicide and remind people of their worth and to not give up.

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, you can reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for help at 1-800-273-8255

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