This is a sad story with a hopeful ending. Jacob Jean has been through a lot. Four years ago his high school boyfriend Zack, committed suicide. Jean recalls the terrible event vividly and how time seemed to stand still when he learned the tragic news. He described his experience in a column in Outsports, giving a voice to what he has been through.
Jean paints a picture of how he fell into a darkness after Zack’s shocking death:
“A time where most students find happiness in graduating, graduation parties, and moving to college, I found myself depressed and in a dark space. I spent my time being constantly angry and pushing those that cared about me away.
Two exceptions to all of this were my cheerleading teams.
While I was pushing people away, my teams were pulling me in. That summer, I was an athlete of both my local community program, Champion Force Athletics, and Michigan State University, where I would spend my next four years cheering for the Spartans in green and white.”
Jean thanks his college coach Elyse:
“Elyse connected with me at our first collegiate practice of the summer. Barely knowing each other, she was able to establish a bond. She reached out to me saying that she saw a photo and caption I had posted about Zack’s passing. She opened her arms, ears, and heart, making sure that I was getting what I needed.”
Luckily Jean had already come out to his parents at age 14 and they were compassionate and accepting of him. Jean considers himself very lucky to have had so much support from both family and sporting colleagues. No doubt this tragedy would have been so much harder if he could not have been honest about what he was going through in his personal life. Jean says it eloquently:
“What I went through is something that no one should ever do alone. I wish everyone could find the strength to be true to themselves and come out. It’s an amazing life when you are able to be true to who you are.”
There is life after suicide and a vital part of Jean’s recovery was a supportive surrounding community. At a political time as divisive as this, it is so lovely to hear about people being kind and supportive to those in need.
Be the community you wish to see.
Watch a promo for Michigan State University cheerleading:
Featured image via YouTube.