A 19-year-old is believed to have committed suicide in Bakersfield, California.
Jai Bornstein was declared missing a week ago after being last seen by her Uber driver on Tuesday 27 December.
The driver said Jai had walked directly to the river at Hart Park, and that was the last time she was seen alive.
Three days later, as police, park rangers, search and rescue teams, volunteers and police dogs were all searching for Jai, her father had an admission.
He said Jai had left the house on Tuesday morning with the intent of committing suicide, taking the gun when she left their home, but ‘didn’t think [she] had gone through with it’.
The following day, on Saturday, her body was found near the river in Hart Park.
Police have not yet released a cause of death but said a weapon had been found at the scene.
She was buried in a traditional Jewish funeral service on 2 January.
In a statement, her family thanked every person who searched for Jai and gave insight to what Jai might have been thinking before her death.
As reported by Kern Golden Empire, they said: ‘We want to thank all of you who have aided in our search for Jai and all of the love and support the community has given us. This week through our efforts to find Jai, we have shown what is possible when we all come together and respond as a community. Now, our family appeals to our friends, neighbors, and fellow community members to not allow Jai’s death to be the end of the story.
‘Please think of Jai every time a family member or friend comes out as LGBTQ and/or gender non-conforming, when you hear the topic on the news, or when there is a ballot initiative about bathrooms. During conversations at the office or at the dinner table, remember that activism starts with dialogue. Remember how loving and passionate an activist Jai was. Remember how hard she worked to encourage people to hear the stories and needs of trans people. We can honor Jai by creating space for the LGBTQ and gender non-conforming youth in our lives, in our schools, in our homes and in our hearts.
‘Additionally, we want to recognize the complexity of Jai’s person and her struggle as a Jew living in a place where where the majority of people belong to a different faith. To be different in a world where difference is often not embraced is a challenge that many of us may never truly understand, and all we can do is work to ease that struggle for others. Together we can make this world safer and softer for youth like Jai by treating everyone we meet with dignity and respect no matter how different they may appear.’