Ashley Hallstrom, of Logan, Utah, ended her life on Wednesday

By Cathy Free
Updated October 17, 2015 05:35 PM
Credit: Facebook

Shortly before ending her life on Wednesday morning, Ashley Hallstrom of Logan, Utah, went to her Facebook page to leave one final post.

“From a very young age, I was told that people like me are freaks and abominations, that we are sick in the head and society hates us,” the 26-year-old wrote about her lifelong struggle with being transgender. “This made me hate who I was. I tried so hard to be just like everyone else but this isn’t something you can change. I can’t stand to live another day, so I’m committing suicide. Please share my final words. I believe my last words can help make the change that society needs to make so one day there will be no others like me.”

After posting her goodbye message and uploading a new profile photo, Hallstrom then drove to a nearby highway, where police say she walked into traffic and was hit by a dump truck.

“It is believed the act was intentional,” Gary Jensen, public information officer for the Logan City Police Department said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE. “Evidence gives every indication the driver attempted to swerve and brake to avoid the collision.”

Saddened by Hallstrom’s decision and hoping to raise awareness about the importance of supporting people dealing with transgender issues, several of her friends are hosting a candlelight vigil for her on Saturday night. They’ve also started a GoFundMe page to help Hallstrom’s family pay for funeral expenses. As of this writing, they’ve raised over $2,700 of their $3,250 goal.

“Ashley was a beautiful person inside and out – that is a true fact,” Dawn Blakley, one of her closest friends in Logan, told the Herald Journal. “I wish she could have seen it herself. Everything seemed to be good. She never seemed sad or hurt or confused. This whole thing is such a shock to me.”

As word of Hallstrom’s death spread on social media, LGBT activists in Utah searched for answers.

“LGBTQ youth need our love and support,” Troy Williams, director of Equality Utah told PEOPLE. “We need to create a culture where all youth know they are valued and that they have beautiful gifts to offer the world. It’s important that youth know there are resources like The Trevor Project available in times of crisis. Sadly, rural communities often lack affirming LGBTQ networks. Clearly we have a lot of work to do.”

Hallstrom’s final post, which has been shared almost 1,600 times, is heartbreaking in its simplicity and honesty.

“These are going to be my final words. The reason why I’ve decided to do this is because I’m transgender,” she wrote. “It wasn’t until I was 20 that I found out I wasn’t alone. I had hope that I would finally be able to live as and love who I am. I finally came out as transgender and began transitioning. I was genuinely happy.”

But that happiness wasn’t enough, she said, to get past society’s attitudes toward transgender people.

“I had already been poisoned by a society that didn’t understand us and, even worse, didn’t want to even try,” wrote Hallstrom. “I saw the pain it caused to people like me, and going through this same hurt myself has become too much for me to take any more.”

“I’m writing all of this because I need my story be shared,” she added. “I don’t want to be just another number of a tragic statistic. People need to know that I’m not just another face of someone they never met. I was alive. I have a family and friends that I love very much and I’m so sorry to them for the hurt this will cause them. I loved being around those that I love. I loved listening to music and singing. I loved going out to eat with friends and enjoying good food. I was a real person.”

“I still want to help people and I believe I still can,” she concluded. “You may never know who you’re hurting until it’s too late. Please help fix society.”

A frequent Reddit user, Hallstrom as recently as three months ago pleaded with another Redditor not to take her own life. “Please talk to us. Look at all these people who love you and will miss you,” she wrote under the username LittleColette. “We all want to help you. Don’t give up on us and I promise we won’t give up on you.”

After Hallstrom posted her own suicide note, several of her friends attempted to reach her on Facebook, pleading with her not to go through with her plan.

“Ashley, I know you’ve been through so much,” one of them wrote. “But you have friends that care about you and stand with you through this. You have been through one of life’s hardest burdens, but don’t think for a second you wouldn’t be missed.”

By the time the pleas were posted, though, it was too late. Hallstrom had already stepped in front of traffic on U.S. Highway 89-91.