Kayleigh Scott: Trans flight assistant who died by suicide was failed by society, friends say

Kayleigh Scott died shortly after posting about her mental health on social media. She is pictured here in a promotional video for United in which she opens up about her journey. She can be seen standing on a plane wearing her flight attendant uniform.

Friends of Kayleigh Scott, a trans United Airlines flight attendant who took her own life, told PinkNews she was a kind and empathetic woman who was failed by society.

On 23 March, Scott shared her struggles with her mental health in a heartbreaking Instagram post. Shortly afterwards, her family confirmed, she died by suicide.

It was almost three years to the day since she’d opened up about her transition in a Trans Day of Visibility video for United Airlines.

Tributes have flooded in, with friends and family coming together to remember a woman was smart, adventurous and resilient.

Natalie first connected with Kayleigh online about five years ago and the flight attendant asked her for advice before she started her transition.

“She was smart and funny. Clever. Adventurous. We stayed in touch throughout the years and I tried to offer advice when she asked for it,” Natalie told PinkNews. 

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Throughout their conversations, Kayleigh often alluded to being depressed.

“I wish I’d known how depressed she really was. Being trans wasn’t the cause of her depression. It was the way her life changed. How difficult things became for her. She looked like she was thriving, but internally she was really struggling,” Natalie added.

Natalie struggled with feelings of guilt when she heard about her friend’s death.

“She reached out to me a few months ago and was asking how to deal with heartbreak after her relationship ended and what advice I might have. I don’t think my advice helped her.

“I should have called her. I should have checked up on her. I saw her post and felt gutted. I felt like I failed her. I used to be this constant in her life and I let it fade to occasional compliments on photos and a quick ‘how are you’ text.”

Kayleigh Scott in a United video.
Kayleigh Scott in a United Airlines video. (YouTube)

Natalie wants people to know that Kayleigh Scott’s death is a tragedy – and that she was failed by society.

“She was young and idealistic and courageous. She tried to battle her demons and take pride in who she was, to focus on gratitude and to live on her terms, but our society failed her. The laws being created to oust trans people from society are going to cost the lives of many beautiful people.

“She had a full life ahead of her and now she’s gone… suicide is a result of untreated pain. I don’t know what caused her the most pain, but I wonder if society had been more tolerant and accepting, if she’d still be here.”

Mya Brown, a friend who set up a GoFundMe to raise money to cover Scott’s funeral expenses, said that shortly before her death, she and Kayleigh talked about going for a hike together.

“She mentioned Sunset Ridge Trail on Mount Mansfield which I’ve climbed a few times and I was really looking forward to it,” Mya told PinkNews.

“Due to her career and my busy college schedule it never happened, and I’m sad about that.”

Mya felt sick when she woke to the news that her friend had died.

“I was really heartbroken. Then, you have all the thoughts regardless of how close you are with that person of: ‘I could’ve done more. I should’ve reached out.’ I felt hopeless and overwhelmed with sadness.

“Kayleigh was kind, funny, empathetic, patient and resilient. She was always there.

“She was always so positive and loving. I have so much respect and gratitude for her. When you are battling with your own mental health and still give your best: your love, kindness and patience to others, that’s a different type of strength. That’s Kayleigh.”

Suicide is preventable. Readers in the UK who are affected by the issues raised in this story are encouraged to contact the Samaritans on 116 123 (www.samaritans.org), or Mind on 0300 123 3393 (www.mind.org.uk). ​Readers in the US are encouraged to contact the National Suicide Prevention Line on 1-800-273-8255.