SWARTHMORE, Pa. - Every parent of a teenager needs to know the important information in this story. Exactly a year and a half ago, a Delaware County teen lost her life to suicide. And, while her parents still search for answers, they share their story in the hope of preventing another loss.
To most people that knew her, Hallie Jackson was the life of the party.
"She was full of life. She was full of energy," dad Kevin Jackson described his daughter, Hallie.
Always a smile, always a dance.
"From water skiing, to snow skiing, you name it…she was always up for the adventure. She was always up for the fun," Christine Jackson added, describing her daughter, Hallie.
Hallie also had lightning speed. And, when the Strath Haven High School track star wasn’t competing, she was on the sidelines as a varsity cheerleader. By most accounts, the middle child of "The Jackson 5" was the All-American Girl.
"She loved her sports, she loved her friends and she loved her family," Kevin remarked.
But, what most didn’t see behind the mega-watt smile were bouts with minor anxiety and depression. She was even going to therapy. But, no one, not her parents, not her therapist could have imagined what happened early Monday morning, October 28th, 2019.
Seemingly upset, Hallie left the house early for school with no explanation.
"It was truly the worst day of our lives. It’s like a bad movie, every single day," Kevin lamented.
Hallie’s mom was worried enough that morning to call Swarthmore Police. But, two hours later, an officer was at her door to tell her Hallie took her own life in front of a SEPTA train.
She was 16.
"They told me she passed and how she passed. I think I’m still in shock," Christine said.
"To have it snuffed out. The why. The why’s are the hardest," Kevin stated. "I would never wish that on anyone. Of having any parent of a child to have to go and pick out a casket. Pick out a burial plot."
To this day, her parents still really don’t know why. Her death sent a chilling effect through the Delaware County community. If a girl like Hallie was privately struggling with mental health, so could any kid.
"Starting the conversation. That conversation. Breaking the stigma for mental health. This is not a taboo subject," Christine remarked.
And, breaking that stigma may be Hallie’s legacy. Her family has now started a foundation in her name. The goal is to give teenagers mental health help through sports.
The Hope for Hallie Foundation will soon offer professional mental health counseling to teenagers for free, or at a reduced cost.
"Maybe it’s naïve to think people like that don’t pass by suicide. And, I think that is what my message would be – there is not a face to this," Christine stated.
Although she won’t be graduating this spring, Hallie’s memory still lives on. Her teammates wore purple sleeves this season to honor their friend. And, while coming to grips with unimaginable pain, Hallie’s parents are trying to prevent that same pain from happening to other families.
"To be able to have a resource for these teenagers, to know that they have someone they can call and contact…we don’t want other families to feel this pain,"
More information, including resources for help, can be found at Hope for Hallie.
If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, help is available at the Suicide Help Line at 800-273-8255.
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