Jeremy Wade Delle was a 15-year-old sophomore who had just recently been transferred to Richardson High School in Richardson, Texas, from Bryan Adams in Dallas. On the 8th of January, 1991, Jeremy came to school armed with a .357-caliber Magnum.
That morning, Jeremy arrived to class late and the teacher in his second-period English class, Fay Barnett, told Jeremy to get an admittance slip from the school’s office. Instead of retrieving the admittance slip, however, Jeremy went to his locker and retrieved the gun he had brought along with him.
When Jeremy arrived back in class, he walked directly to the front of the classroom, stated: “Miss, I got what I really went for,” and the placed the barrel of the gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger, killing himself in front of his teacher and 30 of his classmates.1
Before anybody had any chance to react, Jeremy was dead at the front of the classroom. Brian Jackson, had been opening his locker just outside the classroom as the horror unfolded. He described a loud bang “like somebody had just slammed a book on a desk.” Within seconds, however, he heard screams emanating from inside the classroom and students began to run into the hallways. Brian approached the classroom and peered in: “The teacher was standing against the wall crying and shaking,” he said.
The young witnesses would be ushered into another classroom while the school district’s volunteer crisis team arrived on scene to speak with the students through their grief. Since Jeremy had only been at the school for two months, he had not yet made many close bonds. According to his teacher, he was more of a “loner” who spent most of his time on his own. “He was real quiet and he acted down at times. He acted sad,” said Koury Kashiem. Lisa Moore, who knew Jeremy from the in-school suspension program, said that she and Jeremy would pass notes to one another. He often signed off with: “Write back.” However, on the Monday, he had signed off with: “Later days.”
Before Jeremy’s suicide, he had been struggling psychologically and had spent some time as a hospital-bound student at a psychiatric hospital.2 His attendance at school had been sporadic and he had met with Jeremy and his father to discuss the problem. Furthermore, Jeremy had been in counselling with his father, who was separated from his mother. Richardson school district spokeswoman Susan Dacus-Wilson stated: “High school administrators knew he was a troubled child, and they were trying to do as much as they could for him.”
An investigation would determine that Jeremy had stolen the gun from a female acquaintance of his father.
In the wake of the suicide, a number of Jeremy’s classmates expressed tremendous guilt for not trying to befriend him. One boy named Danny stated: “Everybody I talked to said the ultimate same thing: They wish they could have said something to him before he did it.”3
A girl who attended church with Jeremy at Casa View Baptist Church would reveal that Jeremy had been “looking for love and wasn’t quite sure where to find it.” She said that Jeremy was a very open person and had discussed suicide in the past. Shortly before his death, he had handed this girl an envelope and asked her to give it to another friend.4
This envelope contained a suicide note. Jeremy had written several suicide notes and sent several cassettes to friends before taking his own life. One of them read:
“To whoever I decide this is to, I have a lot going on, a little too much, more than what I can handle. I’m in too much pain, and I just want YOU to understand why I’m doing this. I don’t hate myself I hate what’s going on in my life, my parents, a new school. I feel like I don’t fit in nowhere. I realize that there will be friends that will try to ask me why. Because I feel like I have to, I feel it’s the only way. I figure it’s been so many ya’ll won’t even know I’m gone and as for ones that tried to hurt me, you didn’t. Sorry, Nancy, by the time you get this letter I will have blown my head off, aka suicide, better known as (last way out). News flash – not your fault. It’s Michelle’s along with about 137.5 other problems. I was just writing to see if you wanted to go to the funeral. Call my house and ask for my Dad, 690-5338. At least you didn’t have to hear the boom. Love, Jeremy Wade Delle.“
The tragic suicide would inspire the infamous Pearl Jam song, Jeremy. Eddie Veder said he had read about Jeremy in the newspaper and felt “the need to take that small article and make something of it – to give that action, to give it reaction, to give it more importance.”
- The Dallas Moring News, 9 January, 1991 – “Richardson Teenager Kills Himself in Front of Classmates”
- Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 13 January, 1991 – “Teen Suicide”
- The Dallas Morning News, 9 January, 1992 – “Crisis Teams Respond Quickly to Teen’s Suicide”
- The Dallas Morning News, 10 January, 1991 – “Crisis Lines Busy”