Andrew Kukes’s eight year battle with severe depression ended on July 14, 2009 when he took his own life at only 30-years-old. Andy suffered from social anxiety and the common co-occurring condition of depression, brought on by this little known and often misunderstood disorder, for the majority of his young adult life.
The Andrew Kukes Foundation for Social Anxiety was founded by Andy’s parents, Patricia Kukes and Jeffrey Kukes, with the hope that with proper education, awareness and support, other families will benefit and be saved from the pain caused by the loss of a loved one, and that those who suffer from social anxiety can find balance and peace in their lives.
Andy had an idyllic childhood, succeeding both scholastically and athletically. He had an unassuming, gentle nature and a razor sharp intellect that attracted people to him. Valedictorian of his high school class, no one noticed the early signs of his struggles with social anxiety. In college, however, when Andy could not adjust to the social pressures of campus life at Princeton, the signs became dramatically clearer.
Andy sought out and received psychiatric help at Princeton, but after struggling for several months, he dropped out of school. Six months later, he enrolled at Columbia, more comfortable because he knew a friend from high school there. In 2001, he graduated Summa Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa.
Shortly after graduation, Andy fell into a severe depression. He and his family diligently and desperately pursued every kind of help possible and set out on a quest for treatment, which proved to be a long and difficult road. After many years of misdiagnosis and treatment, Andy discovered information on social anxiety that brought him to Jonathan Berent, LCSW, ACSW. With Berent’s help, Andy began to understand his disorder, yet he chose not to participate in the recommended treatment. The outcome was tragic for all.
Andy’s story and struggle compelled the Kukes family to establish the Andrew Kukes Foundation for Social Anxiety with the stated mission to train professionals in the diagnosis and treatment of social anxiety, provide a forum and guidance for sufferers and their families and educate the general public.