NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 19:  Journalist Anderson Cooper appears on stage during the Turner Upfront 2016 show at The Theater at Madison Square Garden on May 18, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Turner)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 19: Journalist Anderson Cooper appears on stage during the Turner Upfront 2016 show at The Theater at Madison Square Garden on May 18, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Turner)
PHOTO: Dimitrios Kambouris/Turner/Getty Images
Now playing
00:33
Anderson Cooper on brother's death: I still ask why
Stock Photo:
Young sad woman with cup of coffee or tea. Stress, depression, illness concept.

Image ID:521073610
Copyright: Juta
Release Information: Signed model release filed with Shutterstock, Inc
Stock Photo: Young sad woman with cup of coffee or tea. Stress, depression, illness concept. Image ID:521073610 Copyright: Juta Release Information: Signed model release filed with Shutterstock, Inc
PHOTO: Juta/Shutterstock
Now playing
02:35
How to look for suicide warning signs
how i managed my depression tc ts orig_00001117.jpg
how i managed my depression tc ts orig_00001117.jpg
Now playing
02:02
We need to start talking about depression
Talinda Bennington at a CNN Town Hall on Suicide prevention
Talinda Bennington at a CNN Town Hall on Suicide prevention
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
01:18
Linkin Park singer's wife reflects on day he died
Jane Clementi at a CNN Town Hall on Suicide prevention
Jane Clementi at a CNN Town Hall on Suicide prevention
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
01:32
After losing son to suicide, she considered it too
DOVER, DE - JUNE 19:  Rapper Logic performs onstage during day 2 of the Firefly Music Festival on June 19, 2015 in Dover, Delaware.  (Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Firefly)
DOVER, DE - JUNE 19: Rapper Logic performs onstage during day 2 of the Firefly Music Festival on June 19, 2015 in Dover, Delaware. (Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Firefly)
PHOTO: Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images
Now playing
01:30
Hit song has life-saving message
PHOTO: Shutterstock
Now playing
01:41
Mind health doctor: We have to talk about it
Now playing
01:37
Camerota: There are dark days, but it can lift
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
02:03
Axelrod: We've got to talk about these things
Dylan Minnette, Katherine Langford in Netflix
Dylan Minnette, Katherine Langford in Netflix's '13 Reasons Why'
PHOTO: Beth Dubber/Netflix/Beth Dubber/Netflix
Now playing
01:53
'13 Reasons Why' adds warning video to series (2018)
dnt lavandera robin williams suicide numbers _00001425.jpg
dnt lavandera robin williams suicide numbers _00001425.jpg
Now playing
02:30
Suicide by the numbers
Jada Pinkett Smith suicide orig mg rf_00003425.jpg
Jada Pinkett Smith suicide orig mg rf_00003425.jpg
PHOTO: Megyn Kelly TODAY
Now playing
01:15
Jada Pinkett Smith on having suicidal thoughts
Sally Yates David Axelrod
Sally Yates David Axelrod
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
02:57
Sally Yates opens up about dad's suicide
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 15:  Musician Chris Cornell (L) and wife Vicky Karayiannis arrive at the 69th Annual Golden Globe Awards held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 15, 2012 in Beverly Hills, California.  (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 15: Musician Chris Cornell (L) and wife Vicky Karayiannis arrive at the 69th Annual Golden Globe Awards held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 15, 2012 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Jason Merritt/Getty Images North America/Getty Images
Now playing
01:29
Chris Cornell's widow opens up about his death
girl behind Golden Gate bridge barrier nccorig_00000613.jpg
girl behind Golden Gate bridge barrier nccorig_00000613.jpg
Now playing
01:31
Girl's tragic death leads to big change

Editor’s Note: Anderson Cooper anchors CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360°,” which airs weeknights at 8 p.m. ET. A version of this article was originally published in the September 2003 issue of Details magazine. Cooper will host the CNN Special Report, “Finding Hope: Battling America’s Suicide Crisis,” Sunday, June 24 at 7 p.m. ET. If you or someone you know needs help, call the national suicide hotline: 1-800-273-TALK.

(CNN) —  

My brother died by suicide nearly 30 years ago, and still not a day goes by when I do not find myself thinking about what happened and asking, “why?”

That is one of the things about the suicide of a loved one: It’s easy to get stuck on how their life ended, instead of remembering how they lived their life.

July 22, 1988. That was the date. It was a warm summer night in New York. When my brother died, I was in Washington, D.C., sitting on one of those silent subways the city is known for.

You always hear tales about brothers who can feel each other’s pain. This isn’t one of them. When my brother died, I didn’t feel a thing.

His name was Carter Cooper, and he was 23 at the time, two years older than I was. I’d always considered us close, though now I’m not so sure, because I didn’t see the pain he was in. And when I did get a glimpse of it, it scared me so much I didn’t know how to help.

As kids, we were together all the time. He was fascinated with military history and always led our childhood campaigns.

Carter went to Princeton and seemed to thrive amid the ivy walls and green lawns. After graduation, he wrote book reviews and started editing a history magazine. He talked about writing a novel.

Politics was a passion, but he wasn’t suited for the rough-and-tumble of the game. He felt things too deeply.

“There’s no wall between Carter’s head and his heart,” a friend of his once said. That was true. He was gentle. Which makes the violence of his death that much more incomprehensible. “He was the last person I’d imagine doing this” – after his death, I heard that a lot.

Looking back, there were signs something was wrong. He’d recently broken up with his girlfriend and seemed unmoored, but none of us knew to what extent. When we spoke on the phone he seemed anxious, distracted; as if his thoughts were elsewhere. One night, a few months before he died, I went home and I remember talking with him in the darkness of his room. I didn’t know what to say, but it worried me to see him so unlike himself.

He began to see a therapist, and I took it as a good sign that he was getting help. It made it easy for me to step back, to not involve myself, to not reach out to him more. It was only later, after his death, when I met his therapist and learned that Carter hadn’t really confided in him much. He’d hidden his pain from everyone.

In the days following his death, reporters and cameramen milled around outside our building. I stayed inside, leaving only once to go to my brother’s apartment and pick out a suit for his burial.

The place was just as he’d left it. A half-eaten turkey sandwich was on the kitchen counter. The air was stale, the bed unmade. I remember it still smelled of him, and I bent down to his pillow to feel close to him. I can’t remember what he smelled like anymore.

There was no note.

On his desk I found a piece of paper with a single sentence in quotes. “The cuticle of common sense that had protected him over the years from his own worst tendencies had worn away, leaving him increasingly vulnerable to obsessions.”

It was from a book he was reviewing, but I wondered for weeks if it had spoken to him in some secret way.

The other day I was speaking to a woman who had lost a family member to suicide and she asked, “When will I stop asking, ‘why?’ ” The truth is that sometimes there are answers about why someone dies by suicide; there are factors like depression, substance abuse, the breakup of a relationship.

But many more times there is no clear answer, or not one single reason. Learning to live without knowing why is one of the many things I continue to struggle with.

I do know that my brother was a sweet young man who wanted to be in control of his life, and in the end, he simply wasn’t. The truth is, none of us really are. I wish I had better understood the pain he was in. I wish he had been able to reach out for help.

There is help available. Help and hope, even when you can’t see it in the darkness … it is all around you.

If you or someone you know needs help, call the national suicide hotline: 1-800-273-TALK. For more resources, visit CNN.com/FindingHope.