Anderson Cooper's brother Carter died 33 years ago by suicide

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It's been 33 years since Anderson Cooper's brother Carter tragically died by suicide, but the CNN anchor says he is still affected by the devastating loss.  

"Any time you lose a loved one, especially when you're younger, it alters the trajectory of your life," Anderson, 54, says in this week's PEOPLE cover story. 

"It's inconceivable to me that my brother died in 1988 and I've lived more of my life without him than I have with him. There's not a day that goes by that I don't think about what he would be doing, who he would be, and I still think about his death and have questions about it," he says.

For more from Anderson Cooper, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday, or subscribe here.

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Credit: Ben Watts

Carter died after jumping off the terrace wall of his mother Gloria Vanderbilt's 14th floor Manhattan apartment. His passing came 10 years after the death of Carter and Anderson's father, Wyatt Emory Cooper. 

"It was the same with my mom," adds Anderson. "Till the day she died (in 2019), we were both still stunned by what happened. There are some things that never can be answered and you have to find a way to live in that space of not knowing, or not fully understanding."

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Anderson Cooper's family
| Credit: Ron Galella/Getty
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Cooper brothers
| Credit: Courtesy Anderson cooper

In his new book (co-written with historian and novelist Katherine Howe) Vanderbilt: The Rise and Fall of an American Dynasty (available Sept. 21), Anderson dives deep into the past to tell the incredible story of how his Vanderbilt family ancestors were once among the richest people in the world before losing it all.

Anderson Cooper
Credit: Michael Kovac/Getty

He also sits down with PEOPLE to share what he's learned about love and loss from his famous family and how he's raising his 16-month-old son Wyatt, whom Anderson is co-parenting with his former partner of 10 years, Benjamin Maisani, 48. 

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Anderson Cooper's family
| Credit: Susan Wood/Getty
anderson cooper family
Anderson Cooper's family
| Credit: Jack Robinson/Hulton Archive/Getty

"My dad wrote a book before he died (during heart surgery when Anderson was 10) about his family growing up in Mississippi. And because he died when I was so young, a lot that I know of him came from that book. I wanted to write a letter to Wyatt about this crazy and unusual part of his family's past," he says.

Watch the full episode of People Cover Story: Anderson Cooper on PeopleTV.com or on the PeopleTV app.

Vanderbilt: The Rise and Fall of an American Dynasty is available Sept. 21.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.