It’s been a year since Jared hung himself in his dorm room. October 28, 2019. An ordinary Monday morning, like any other Monday. Or so we thought.

I will remember this day distinctly forever. I’ll remember the moment, actually. It’s engrained in my memory the same way everyone remembers where they were when they heard the news of the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001.

I was in our weekly staff meeting. Sitting in the board room in the University Center, Nathan and Shelley both received phone calls. The energy in the room shifted and I remember feeling tense, a pit of emotions welling up in me. Not knowing what exactly had happened yet, but knowing that there was an alleged death on campus, I felt fear and sadness and hope that it wasn’t true.

Then the worst possible news came. There had been a death on campus. A suicide. Shelley told me that it was Jared and I sank into sadness, tears poured out of my eyes, and questions filled my head.

How could this be true? Why didn’t anyone see this coming? Jared? No way. What the actual fuck ever? How can this be happening?

It hit me that I would never see Jared’s big, bright smile again. I would never hear him laugh. I would never again see those dreadlocks and tie-dye shirts bobbing across campus in the way that Jared always wandered so free and light and spirited.

Jared lived in the room across from my apartment his freshman year. He and I had a good relationship. I was close to his whole friend group. Knowing the impact this would have on them broke my heart. Shattered me into a million pieces.

My heart screamed for Caleb. He was the one that found Jared. I could never possibly understand what that must’ve been like for him.

Sadly, I now know just what Caleb must’ve felt. Or I can assume anyway. Who would’ve guessed that just nine months later, I too would be a first responder to a student suicide?

Caleb was the first person outside of my team to reach out to me after Alex’s suicide. He understood what I was going through and could empathize with me. He gave me a hug and told me that he would always be here for me if I needed, the way I was there for him. Another moment I will never forget.

Just one year after Jared’s death, I know the weight of suicide and I feel it so heavily. I’m a loss survivor and every day hurts. This day especially. I imagine I will feel this on July 15th too.

Just one year later and I still cry when I think about him, when I think about his friend group or I see them having fun and living life fully as the young people they are. I have so much love for this group of young people. I feel so much pain for this group of young people. And I empathize so greatly with them. I can’t imagine what they must be feeling today.

One year ago, we lost a beautiful young soul, so full of life, so full of pain, and so full of hurt. Demons won the battle.

Jared, you are so loved, my dear friend.

Communicator. Educator. Empath. Survivor. Writer.