February 1, 1992 – February 18, 2017
Jackson Roeder was a talented and passionate individual, despite the challenges he faced. My brother was treasured and admired by many throughout his time here on earth. Jackson’s personality and energy were always drawing others in and he would never pass by unnoticed, for he was 6 ft 6 in. Jackson touched lives in several different ways. First of all, he was a mentor to others. His classmates in the NDSU architecture program voted him to receive the peer mentor award for his class because of how willing he was to help and teach his peers. He loved architecture and was pursuing his passion by getting his master’s degree, but he was willing to put competition aside in order to help his peers whenever he could. Jackson’s creativity was not only limited to architecture. He spent time doing art at the end of high school and in college. Jackson had a mind unlike any other. He was constantly exploring how the world worked and wanting to educate himself. Google was his “go-to” and you could always have a long in-depth conversation with Jackson about some of the inner workings of humanity. Jackson was one of the smartest people I knew. When he put his mind to a task, he would dive in head first and usually wound up with a masterpiece.
Jackson’s personality was attractive to others for his helpfulness, creativity, and intelligence, but also because he was so selfless and conscientious of others. At Jackson’s wake, our family was told stories of how he made a difference and stood up for others in their time of need. He was someone people would call for help as he would be sure to do the right thing. It always seemed like everyone wanted to be his friend and know what his next adventure would be.
Jackson was full of adventure. Several years ago for a family birthday in Minneapolis, Jackson asked if he could meet everyone at the celebration. He let it be known that day that he was biking from St. Cloud, that is pedal biking. He GPS’d the back roads and took pictures of city population signs along the way. He even had to call to tell our family that he was going to be late because he couldn’t find the population sign for Minneapolis. His endurance was astounding. He completed 4 marathons, and often did so with very little training.
Jackson and I enjoyed getting Sushi every week at our favorite spot in Fargo, ND. I was blessed to have followed him to his college town and be able to spend time with him reminiscing about our childhood, talking about our family, and exchanging life updates and advice. Jackson and I enjoyed our parents coming to visit and taking us out too. We knew we had an awesome family. The memories of family vacations, holidays, and casual get-togethers with Jackson are now the most cherished pieces of our lives.
The pain of losing someone you love is perhaps the worst feeling of the human experience. There were days when tears would flow from my eyes every time I blinked and the grief seemed truly unbearable. I would not wish the emotional pain I have felt on any other person in the world. However, the pain of mental illness is not to be overshadowed. Jackson struggled with mental health related issues for the majority of his life.
The challenge in our society is that mental health is not accepted like other medical conditions. My parents had been with Jackson on the journey of getting him help throughout his life, navigating multiple setbacks along the way. They elicited help from educators, counselors, and health care professionals from St. Cloud, the Twin Cities, and Fargo. Jackson’s last setback was in early 2015 and he had been doing very well without any indication of a problem. Jackson loved and cared for us deeply and we were shocked by his passing.
The Jackson Roeder Memorial Fund was set up at Centracare Health Foundation as part of the Behavioral Health Funds. Our family started selling reprints of Jackson's artwork with all proceeds going to this fund. Our family’s hope is to raise money for suicide prevention & mental health awareness, specifically in Central Minnesota. This fund will provide support for those suffering with mental illness, especially children and adolescents. We want to make the path to getting help easier. Surely, we will bring mental illness out into the open and lessen the stigma. Jackson’s legacy already has and will continue to implement changes in our community for others.
-Jackson’s Little Sister,
Cassie Roeder and the Roeder Family
To find more mental health/suicide prevention resources as well as view and purchase Jackson’s artwork, go to jacksonroeder.com.
2018 Featured Families - Cahli Health and Nick Chock
When I was thinking about writing this I thought it would be easy- I’d just tell you about all the wonderful things that made Nick special. The truth is it’s hard to summarize in a paragraph all the things we miss about him since he died. As most families we never thought this would be “our story”. Nick was smart, loving, caring, and lit up the world. He loved hanging out with his friends and family, the outdoors, playing video games, and mostly riding his 4-wheeler. He was the kind of person you could count on, who stuck by his word, and made you feel like you were truly special and loved. He made me feel like I was getting something right. He made the world a better place just by being in it.
We never saw June 9, 2015 coming. Nick had never shown any signs of depression- that night he had an argument with his girlfriend and for some reason his impulse was to end the pain. The “why’s” of suicide have been the hardest. Why him? Why didn’t he know this would pass and life would be back to “normal”? Why didn’t he know that his decision would devastate us? Why didn’t I say something more, see something? When was the last time I told him I loved him? They could go on and on. Today, 2 years and 10 months later, the pain of his loss is deep and at times takes my breath away. I work every day to try and figure out a way to live without him. His pain just transferred to us but the difference is our “normal” has to become a “new normal”.
The milestones we have missed and will continue to miss sadden me. We will never see him marry, have children of his own, or all the other things parents look forward to. I wonder what he would have looked like as he aged. I wonder if his niece would have had him wrapped around her finger. I wonder what kind of a father he would have been? It’s likely I’ll live longer without him than I had with him. 18 years and 11 months is not enough time.
It’s difficult enough to lose someone you love, especially a child, but when it’s from suicide you feel like you have to defend your loved one. As if their death requires an explanation or something. Nick didn’t commit a crime. I believe his death was a mistake, that he got caught up in the moment. I hope someday we find compassion for suicide victims like we do cancer victims or any other victim. As much as some people think they “did it to themselves” I believe we can’t understand what happened to our loves ones at that moment.
Life doesn’t have a rewind button; just play, fast forward, or stop. Part of us stopped June 9, 2015 and the other parts are trying to learn to play again. Despite some of the healing, it doesn’t change the fact that I miss him terribly.
I wish I could have one more hug, one more smile, or one more I love you. Most of all, I wish this wasn’t our story. I saw a saying on a suicide support website that a mother put on her child’s gravestone that sums up Nick………… “You weren’t the sunrise, you weren’t the sunset. You were the sun.” Without him here life is a little less bright.
A ton is a ton.
Mental illness is mental illness.
The moment my depression and anxiety started isn’t as clear as the day I took my life back. January 2nd, 2018 is the day I raised my white flag and surrendered my fight in silence. New year new you, right? More like New Year new lease on life. My battle with depression goes back as far as I can remember. I’ve always fought seasonal depression or SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). Anxiety seemed to catch on somewhere around my junior year of high school. Realistically though it never seemed to be “that bad” to me until my 25th birthday this past July.
Normally, my birthday is my favorite holiday. Ask any of my family and they will tell you plenty of stories about my count downs. This year was different though. Insert quarter life crisis. “I’m not married.” “I don’t have kids.” “I love my job but can I make it a career?” “I really should have been (here) by now.” “I really should have achieved (this) by now.” Fast forward to almost 6 months later. All that time with the usual daily ups and downs. Except now the ups feel like a quick breath of fresh air, and the downs feel like a black hole. A black hole that left me laying in bed not wanting to do a thing. It’s not that I was extremely sad, or constantly exhausted. I was just irritable. It was easier if I stayed in my hole, away from everyone. Everyone that is except my truly amazing boyfriend who lets me have bad days, and who celebrates the good days with me. My “mood” that I kept saying was just a funk was impacting all my relationships though. My niece and nephew who bring me such joy noticed I was crabby. I blamed things on my sister for why our relationship was crumbling. I would rarely talk to my brother wo is my best friend. Worst of all I took most of my bad attitude out on my parents who are my biggest support system. Friends? What friends? I got good at making excuses to shut people out.
I really owe my life change to my mom. One night after her listening to me cry and push the blame of my problems onto others she confronted me. It was in the most loving way possible. All she really said was do you think it’s time to go to the doctor to talk about your depression. At first, I was upset, “this is NOT depression.” But as quickly as that thought came it went. I broke down and started crying. I agreed to make a doctor’s appointment to talk about the possibility of getting put on meds. Now here’s the part where the truth comes out. For the next week I went back and forth with the idea of calling the doctor or not. You see, everyone in my immediate family suffers from anxiety or depression. “But mines not like theirs”, I would tell myself. In the past I’ve done different things to help cope with my depression and anxiety. Yoga, meditation, journaling, and drawing; just to name a few. I could just start doing all those things again couldn’t I? Sure, I could, and I still can, but now I know they aren’t enough for me. It’s not like I didn’t previously know about mental illness. I took multiple psychology classes in college. What I seemed to have forgotten is that a ton is a ton. A ton of bricks is just as heavy as a ton of feathers. They may look different, but they still weigh the same. Mental illness is mental illness. My depression and anxiety might look different than yours but that doesn’t mean mine weights more than yours or vice versa. That thought is what ultimately made me give in and call the doctor. Sure, my depression and anxiety wasn’t the textbook definition but it still was depression and anxiety. Little did I know the phone call was the easiest part.
Getting up early on my last day of vacation to go to the doctor; that was hard. “It’s not that bad do I really need to go?” “I can still cancel my appointment.” “Shut up, get up and go, what’s the worse that can happen?” Driving to the doctor, that was easy. Getting into the waiting room, that wasn’t too bad either. Answering the questions related to Depression and Anxiety, that was REALLY hard. Finally, fully admitting my struggles to a stranger was beyond scary to me. But I did it. The whole appointment itself went fairly quick and exceeded my expectations on being understood without judgement. I got put on a once a day depression and anxiety medication that has 100% changed my life for the better. At first my body didn’t react great but every day I feel better and better. I actually feel awake and back to being in control of my mood. My life is changed.
My message to others is this, a ton is a ton. Regardless of if you feel like your battle isn’t a fair comparison to someone else you know, doesn’t mean your fight isn’t just as important. EVERYONE deserves to be healthy and happy. NOBODY should fight alone. I promise someone is there; even if it’s me – a stranger – I support you. It is OKAY to NOT be okay. Be brave, have faith, share your story, spread love. ~ Cahli
“Faith and fear both demand you believe in something you cannot see. You choose! – Bob Proctor
Patrick John Vosen 6/11/59 - 2/22/07