"Everything he did, he did it well."
That was Jake, a just-turned 20 year old from Lincoln in the spring of 2011. His mom Kelly Waterlyn speaks carefully, with pride, seeing her middle boy in her mind. She remembers him as an "amazing student ... artist ... sensitive and stunning on any kind of board: wakeboard, slalom ski; he was a sponsored skateboarder."
Jake had gone to Utah to work with his older brother Ryan a few months earlier.
"To earn money to go back to school and he had plans for the future," Kelly said. "He could not have been in a better place." She knew because the two talked or texted each other just about every day.
It was Sunday, June 19, 2011. Kelly and her husband had met with their oldest daughter and her family in Santa Cruz for a long weekend. Kelly says she had texted Jake and his big brotherto remember to talk to their dad because it was Father's Day. The Waterlyns were driving back to Lincoln when Ryan called Kelly's husband.
"Dad ... I have to talk to you."
His dad said he was driving.
"Dad, you have to pull over. Dad, just pull over, pull over."
Kelly says they got off the road. Her husband listened to Ryan and then was out of the car, beating the ground over and over and over.
Jake had taken his own life.
Ryan, as Jake had asked him to, had called to wake him up for church. When he didn't get an answer, he walked over to Jake's apartment and found his little brother. It was too late for help.
There was no indication Jake was even thinking about doing what he did.
"I just know Jake snapped."
Kelly said hearing her middle child was dead just left her with nothing inside at first. There was such shock. She said he didn't leave a note; his last letter had been all about his plans for the future.
"If he mentally could have called me" at that moment, a teary Kelly believes he would have.
There are questions for which the Waterlyns know they won't ever have an answer. Kelly can only say as to why her boy did what he did is that "people have to be careful when it comes to matters of the heart."
Jake was one of three young people from Lincoln who died by their own hand within three months of each other in 2011. The Waterlyns, and the families of Travis Whalen and Aldo Aguilar didn't know each other. But when the Whalens came to the funeral for Jake just a few weeks after their Travis died, there began a bond, be it for the saddest of reasons, among the families. As they grieved and talked, Kelly said there came the realization they had to find a way to help other kids and their families to prevent thefinality of suicide.
"Life gets muddy, it gets dirty, there are other people who will help pull you out," Kelly said, and the annual Mud-Run-4-Life event was born a year ago.
The 5K muddy obstacle course is a fundraiser to support programs for kids that focus on providing answers other than suicide when things go badly. Suicide prevention groups also man booths to offer information on teen suicide prevention resources . The money raised so far - Mud-Run-4-Life cleared about $17,000 its first year - has gone toward Character Combine, a year-long, character-building program starting at Lincoln High School this coming school year; the Soroptimist Teen Self-Esteem Day, and the Point Break school intervention program for 120 Lincoln High kids. The programs deal with building self-esteem, and handling bullying, cyber-bullying, abuse and other issues young people may face.
As for proceeds from this Saturday's Mud-Run-4-Life,Kelly hopes some can go toward getting the message to middle school and younger students.
No one would deny that if one young person is stopped from the irrevocability ofsuicide, the impact of what the Waterlyns, the Whalens, the Aguilars and the Lincoln community are trying to do is huge. No teen should feel suicide is the only option, Kelly believes,andno family should experience the pain of losing a loved one that way, a pain that doesn't ever go away.
"I know if he [Jake] could take this back, he would," she says.
Suicide Prevention and Crisis Services
Sacramento: 1-800-273-8255 or (916) 368-3111
Lincoln: (916) 645-8866
24-hour Parent Support: 1-888-281-3000
Click Mud-Run-4-Lifeto find out how to participate and/or donate. The event is this Saturday, June 22 on 4306 W. Wise Road in Lincoln. Day-of registration starts at 8:30 a.m. to be followed by speakers and presentations with the "muddy" part kicking off about 10 a.m.