Air Force technical sergeant from Lowell commits suicide in Washington DC

LOWELL – At 7:03 p.m. on November 8 – just a few days before Veterans Day – Kenneth Omar Santiago, a former Lowell resident and a technical sergeant from the US Air Force, posted a long message on Facebook to the most important in his life.

At the bottom of the post is a minute-long video montage created by Santiago showing photographs of him with his loved ones. He is always shown smiling brightly in the row of pictures.

“No one ever knows when their time will come,” the 31-year-old wrote in the message. “Even less, ever choosing that moment. Life always has ups and downs, sometimes you don’t always get to the top. With a heavy heart, if you read this, it’s because my time is over in my own hands. “

Just a few hours later, at At 1 a.m. on Nov. 9, Santiago was pronounced dead at George Washington University Hospital, in Washington, DC, by a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to an article in the Miami Herald incident.

The article says Santiago shot himself near the Lincoln Memorial Plaza on the evening of November 8th.

“We urge everyone to respect the privacy of his family and friends and express our deepest sympathy to them as they endure through Santiago’s tragic loss,” said U.S. Air Force Colonel Matthew Jones, the 89th Airlift Wing Commander, in the article.

Santiago was a flight attendant affiliated with the 1st Airlift Squadron. Before starting a career in the Air Force, Santiago grew up in Lowell, where he will always be remembered and appreciated.

Santiago graduated from Lowell High School in 2008 and is a member of Air Force Jr. The ROTC program. He was also an early member of the local nonprofit UTEC. The organization remembered Santiago on its Facebook page after receiving news of the tragedy.

“The staff at UTEC will probably remember Kenny Santiago for his passion for helping others (as one of the early members of our Fresh Roots farming program, see the 2007 Lowell Sun photo), his ease of working and dealing with so many. other teenagers and staff, and his flourishing and bright smile, “UTEC wrote on Facebook. “Unfortunately, we also know that behind every smile there can be a scary and invisible battle going on.”

A picture of 17-year-old Santiago was captured in a publication by The Sun on June 20, 2007 at Richardson Farm in Dracut while serving as a member of UTEC’s Fresh Roots agricultural program.

Santiago was again mentioned in a Sun article in December 2008 detailing his decision to join the Air Force.

“I wanted an education,” Santiago said of his decision to attend. “I wanted a career.

“I’m nervous … and excited,” he added later in the article.

In his farewell message on Facebook, Santiago touched on the war he was waging with the emptiness and loneliness he felt.

“They say you’re really rich when you have family and friends who love you, food on my table and a roof over your head,” Santiago wrote. “I have also experienced love several times in my life, but I have never really felt satisfied with life.

“On the way out, I can not help but wonder if I have ever made a difference in the world,” he said. “Did my insignificant life accomplish anything? I also realized that there is not enough time in the world to say goodbye to friends and family. ”

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline “provides 24/7, free and confidential support to people in need, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones” at 1-800-273-8255.

Follow Aaron Curtis on Twitter @aselahcurtis

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