Jeremy Delle was a schoolboy whose suicide will never be forgotten since Pearl Jam partly dedicated him to a song called simply Jeremy.
But, what drove 15-year-old Jeremy Delle to kill himself? And who was the teenager behind the pop culture?
Who Was The Real Jeremy Delle?
Jeremy Delle was 15 when he walked into a classroom and blew his brain out. But, he was far more than a horrific statistic.
On February 10, 1975, Jeremy Delle was born in Murray, Kentucky, but moved to Texas when he was 3. When Jeremy was 5, his parents separated and then divorced.
Jeremy and his older sister went to live with their mother, Wanda. Their father remarried and divorced again.
Jeremy's mother also remarried, and he lived with his mom, sister, and stepfather until 1989.
In late 1989, his father bought a home in Richardson, Texas. A few months later, in March 1990, Jeremy moved in with him.
Delle had to change high school at the time, but he wouldn't spend much time in his new school. He met a girl named Nancy, and they started dating in March 1990.
In April, the young couple broke up, and Jeremy Delle was hospitalized in Timberlawn for a suicide attempt.
In July, he met a girl Michelle, who was also a patient at Timberlawn. Jeremy started dating Michelle, but he drove himself to Nancy's house one day and said he would shoot himself over family and school problems.
Finally, Jeremy was released in October 1990 from the psychiatric facility, which meant going back to high school. Keep in mind that today, having mental health problems is difficult enough, and speaking about them is even more challenging.
But in 1990, even talking was not an option. On top of it all, his girlfriend, Michelle, was back in the hospital, and the two eventually ended the relationship.
The stigma was unbearable, and Jeremy Delle would soon feel even more pressure without having the proper tools to deal with complicated feelings.
The teen was the odd one out: Richardson high school searched his locker three times between late October and Christmas break.
Jeremy Delle was crying for help. He told a classmate Ashely that he wanted to end his life. She went to a school counselor. Four days later, on December 11, Jeremy told another classmate that he wanted to kill his math teacher and himself.
The following day, the school called the police for alleged threats to Jeremy's math teacher. The Richardson high school told the police about some books Delle was reading, and after discovering he stole 40 dollars from school, Jeremy Delle was arrested.
Despite all the red flags, the family felt helpless. And the school only made things worse for Jeremy's fragile mental state.
In the middle of December, Jeremy Delle was in school but under special treatment, an in-school suspension.
At the end of the semester, the teen told his ex-girlfriend, Michelle B., that he had got a gun.
Jeremy Delle Was Screaming For Help, But Nobody Heard Him
While in police custody, Jeremy's father said that the family was looking for other options to help the troubled teen.
As far as we know, the family tried. Having a suicidal teenager is one of the most challenging tasks for any parent, and nothing could prepare the family for what will happen just after the Christmas break.
From the beginning of January 1991, Jeremy would find himself deeply in the claws of depression. Michelle told him she might be pregnant, and he told her he would die for her.
Michelle recognized that something was wrong and called Jeremy Delle's mom, Wanda. What mom didn't know was that Jeremy was not just depressed. He was also on acid. Mixing drugs with poor mental health is like adding fuel to the fire.
That is why the connection between Jeremy Delle and Pearl Jam is necessary. But we will get to that in a moment.
The following day, January 7, Jeremy would find himself in more trouble. The talented young artist was on his way back from counseling and went to his father's girlfriend's home.
She wasn't there, so Jeremy would hang out and eventually go to his girlfriend's house. Joseph, his dad, picked him up.
Before his dad picked him up, he talked to another student about a stolen stereo and how tired he was of school and his parents.
This was the last night Jeremy Delle would ever sleep in his bed.
The Day Jeremy Took His Own Life
Jeremy, 15, was a painter with numerous awards going back to when he was only seven years old. Under different circumstances, he would grow up and be whatever he wanted to be.
But, on January 8, 1990, Jeremy Delle would tragically end his life, leaving marks on those around him for good.
Before school, he called Nancy and told her he was moving to Tokyo with his father. Nancy later said that Jeremy sounded at peace, though it was sudden, thinking that a new beginning would do him good.
In reality, Jeremy Delle was not moving to Tokyo. But, what was strange, and will haunt everyone who knew Jeremy, was this sudden mood change.
Jeremy Delle was not angry or sad but at peace, which is a common sign that someone who expressed and even tried to end their life will do it again and soon.
Instead of going to class, Jeremy decided to go to the students' common area, where he spoke to Andi and Jennifer, sophomores.
He was in good spirits, telling them his girlfriend was pregnant and he would be moving to Houston to be with her.
As he was leaving for class, Jeremy Delle left a letter asking Andi to send it for him.
At 9:40, Jeremy arrived in his English class. He was late.
Delle told the teacher he lost the slip that allowed him to be in the class, as his in-school suspension was over. He told her he would go to get a new one. And in a matter of seconds, he took out the gun from his locker and said to the teacher, Mrs. Barnett:
"Mrs., this is what I went for."
Jeremy Delle put Smith & Wesson .357 revolver in his mouth and ended his life in front of 30 classmates.
As his mom said decades later, Jeremy was not that version everyone saw on January 8. He was a brother, a son, a grandson, a friend. In other words, Jeremy Delle was not just his depression, but it sure ended him.
The Legacy Of Jeremy Delle
In his suicide note, addressed to his ex-girlfriend Nancy, Jeremy Delle wrote that he was taking the easy way out, ensuring her it was not her fault, and claiming he had 137,5 other issues.
He then gave her Joseph Delle's phone number and asked her to go to the funeral.
One thing that seemingly pushed Jeremy over the edge was Michelle's pregnancy. In his locker, the police found pregnancy-related books. Talking to the police, Michelle said they never had sex, and her counselor confirmed she was not pregnant.
Jeremy's friend's talked to the police about the gun and his suicide threats. Many took it as a joke, adding that Jeremy was taking drugs.
Jeremy Delle's suicide was one of three in the same high school during 1990. The gun Jeremy used to end his life was from his dad's girlfriend's house. This gruesome story caught the attention of Eddie Vedder, who then just joined Pearl Jam.
It reminded him of another story from his childhood, and as he later said, the song wrote itself. It was an alarm, a wake-up call for everyone, as teenage suicide was on the rise.
Jeremy Wade Delle was a real person, and Pearl Jam did get their share of backlash for using this story to create a song. Yet, Jeremy was an artist, and the music made him immortal.
By all accounts, Jeremy Delle was a gifted, bright young man, but no one in his surroundings knew how to help him.
The song, and the video, started more talk about mental health. That was the real legacy of a tragic life that was taken away before it even started.
Brittany King was 16 at the time of Jeremy's suicide. She was in that classroom, and she recalled:
"This was a big wake-up call. Like, you know what? Life is not all hunky-dory all the time. Real things, tragedies happen."
"It made me grow up pretty quick, literally overnight."
She saw Jeremy's body and the flood of blood.
Talking about Jeremy, the song, she said:
"I was angry at them for writing that song. I thought you don't know. You weren't there. That story isn't accurate."
And yet, none of us were there, but we did learn about an unspeakable tragedy that someone had to start talking about.
Rest in Peace, Jeremy Delle.