In memory of Jacob Weiskopf

“Phoebus is dead, ephebe. But Phoebus was a name for something that could never be named…the sun must bear no name, golden flourisher, but be in the difficulty of what it is to be.” – Wallace Stevens

Life at 17 is meant to be so different. You’re young; vibrant; full of life; a whole new world awaits you.

The cute boys and girls awaiting you at college; the adventures you’re going to have in your first car; the experiments in forbidden fruit; the sports you’re going to excel at or the geekdom you’re going to embrace instead (or maybe both).

17 is a time for celebration; it shouldn’t be about being remembered for the things you enjoyed and feeling helpless and bitter for the ones you were yet to discover.

Remembering Jacob Weiskopf

Jacob Weiskopf was just 17 when he took his own life a few short months ago on July 19. The son of my friend Anne Weiskopf, everyone that knew him spoke of him through fond and special words.

When I was driving home from work early last night, there was a single star in the sky. Normally it would have been too light out to see any stars, but this one was was the brightest I’ve ever seen. To Jacob, the baddest bitch in heaven – you outshine everyone else. I hope you know how much we all love and miss you.

Jacob was the best at weird compliments/declarations of affection. My two personal favorites that he used on me were:  “You’re my heroine and crack” and  “You know I love you more than Lana loves sweaters that fit well”.

I met Jacob when he was a patient in my office. So full of laughter and always smiling. I came to love that young man as if he were my own. Every time he came in he would come around to my desk and say “here I am” and I would get the biggest hug. Always made my day.

He had a cat named Obi Wan?? Why am I just finding out about this? Omg… This makes me love him that much more.

These are just a few of the words taken from the wall of the In Memory of Jacob Facebook group set up after Jacob’s death. Looking through the assortment of pictures and memories shows a young man full of life, happy and mischievous.

Sadly, like many others that shine bright on the outside, on the inside Jacob battled the darkness of depression. Despite the love and support surrounding him, and the arms that were ready to catch him every time he fell, on July 19 Jacob’s depression won the battle. His smile and infectious character was gone.

But we can help his memory live on, and help others that take their own lives through depression, through a special project by the IMAlive project.

Giving Hope and Strength to Others

The Kristin Brooks Hope Center operates a service called IMAlive. It’s the first online crisis chat centre – a place where people in dire need can get instant help from trained volunteers. It’s not a cure-all; it’s first aid that can help someone get to more lasting assistance.

While anyone can use the IMAlive service, it may be particularly useful for young people. And young people are especially vulnerable to depression and suicidal.

  • More than 1 in 10 young people in the US have a depressive disorder.
  • Depression can lead to distorted thought patterns and suicidal thoughts and behaviours.
  • Suicide is the tenth most common cause of death in the United States and Canada.
  • For every death from suicide, 11 attempts are made.
  • Only homicide and traffic accidents cause more death among those 15-24 in the US.
  • Providing information about care resources and referral to professional is an effective way of preventing a suicide attempt.
  • 11 % of young people in the US have a depressive disorder, and suicide in in the top three causes of death for those 15-24.

But the good news is that treatments and support are out there that can help young people deal with their depression. And you can help.

The IMAlive 24-7 Giving Challenge gives those who are at their lowest ebb access to trained volunteers online. A chat may be the first step to help, and the end of a downward spiral.

If we can raise $50,000, the Kristin Brooks Hope Centre will be able to keep their chat service up and running 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, until next August. Currently, the total stands at just shy of $25,000, with a little less than a week to go.

Here’s how you can help:

I’m a member of Team Jacob, a group of people touched by the loss of Jacob Weiskopf. We’re participating because we want to help keep young people like Jacob around as long as we possibly can. Your donation can help IMAlive reach that goal.

Do it. Click here, or use the special Team Jacob widget below, to donate between September 8 and 14, National Suicide Prevention Week in the US. There are prizes and draws for donors. If you’re interested in those you can learn more at the Challenge home page.

As someone who’s spoken about my own suicide attempt when I was just a few years older than Jacob, I know how important a project this would be for people in that situation.

Thank you. Your donation may be the difference between grief and joy.

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Danny Brown
Co-author Influence Marketing: How to Create, Manage and Measure Brand Influencers in Social Media Marketing. #1 marketing blog in world as per HubSpot. Husband. Father. Optimist. Pragmatist. Never says no to a good single malt. You can find me on Twitter - Google+ - LinkedIn.
17 comments
Tom Mannion
Tom Mannion

A touching memory and a much needed light on a tragedy that touches far too many families. God bless Jacob. God bless the Weiskopf family.

Advocate
Advocate

Very sad. Thank you for sharing. If I may add, I watched depression hang like a cloud over my friend Earl Silverman's head for many years. I first met him in the summer of 1989 while searching for a room to stay in while attending college. Having the appearance of a biker, Earl opened the door wide, smiled warmly, and welcomed me in. What I discovered then and was reminded of countless times over the years, is that his door was always open – especially to those in need. I am saddened to share that after more than 20 years spent battling depression, he took his life in a final attempt to draw attention to a lack of support for male victims of domestic abuse. As surely as Jacob's struggle existed, so to does this. My prayers are with all who keep up the battle.

Alison King
Alison King

Thanks for this Danny. Powerful and profound. I lost my father to suicide and have battled the demons of depression myself, so have been on both sides of the table - neither is a good place to be. The only answer is to do what you are doing here: talk about it; drag it out of the darkness - kicking and screaming if need be - into the light. My heart goes out to Anne. Alison

Edson Hale
Edson Hale

Because of growing materialism we have lost the eternal bliss and now little words like happiness, love and sincerity are unknown to us. Every one is lonely now despite of being in a crowd so depression is obvious. Services like IMAlive are doing great job to bring back people towards life.

Ashley
Ashley

Hi Danny, I really like how you blended a personal story with strong awareness about the impact of depression and what people can do to help. I really appreciate your honesty about your own suicide attempt. I'm very sorry you went through that. I am sure it is empowering to people with depression to read that they aren't alone and that people care. Have a great day. Ashley Ashbee @Cartooninperson

David Boozer
David Boozer

Thanks for the post Danny, this has been a recent issue with a family member of ours, please keep her in prayer..thanks and God Bless.

Karen Cioffi
Karen Cioffi

How terribly sad. I know of two people who committed suicide this year. One was in his early 40s, several months ago, and the most recent on Sunday. She was in her late 20s. Life can be difficult, but it shouldn't be that difficult, with the feelings of no way out, no way to keep living. It's just terribly sad.

Bob LeDrew
Bob LeDrew

Between grief and joy. Hear hear.

Danny Brown
Danny Brown

Thanks, Tom. One day at a time, but I know Anne and Doug are surrounded by love and support, and that's always good to have in any corner.

Danny Brown
Danny Brown

I've heard of Earl's story - it is truly a sad one, especially given his fight to highlight an often-ignored part of domestic abuse which, as you say, can happen from both sides. That's why I hope IMAlive meet their goal - while the service will definitely help younger folks, it's not age-specific, and people like Earl would have benefited too. Here's to those fighting the everyday battle.

Danny Brown
Danny Brown

Hey there Alison, So sorry to hear that, miss, yet so appreciative of the courage you're showing to talk about it too. Like you say, that's the "best" defence we have against it for now - here's hoping it leads to more lives saved and symptoms recognized.

Danny Brown
Danny Brown

It does seem that the more the technology world gives us more ways to connect, the less time we actually have to connect, Edson. Here's to IMAlive and to Jacob.

Danny Brown
Danny Brown

Hi Ashley, Thanks. When I wrote my own post, the response privately was overwhelming, and validated the openness to show others they're not alone. Tragically, Jacob had amazing support and love but still fell victim to his depression - hopefully trained centres like the IMAlive Project can overcome that falling and really help those that are at the edge.

Danny Brown
Danny Brown

Ah David, that's awful, mate - sorry to hear and sending positive thoughts.

Danny Brown
Danny Brown

It is tragic, Karen. I'm no expert but it seems that even those with loving families and support systems still fall to the burden/weight they feel under. Not sure what the answer is, but hopefully projects like the IMAlive one can be a good starting place.

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