In 1991, Jeremy Wade Delle commited suicide in front of his English class.
The Richardson High School sophomore, from an inner suburb of Dallas, was killed after he fired a bullet into his mouth at around 9:45 a.m.
Delle arrived late to school and his second-period English teacher, Fay Barnett, told him to go to the office and get an attendance slip. He returned with a gun instead. According to The Dallas Morning News, the shooting occurred before his teacher and the 30 students in the classroom could react.
One of the students, Brian Jackson, was working his combination at his locker when he heard a loud bang that he said sounded like a book slamming a desk.
“I thought they were doing a play or something,” Jackson said. “But then I heard a scream and a blond girl came running out of the classroom and she was crying.”
When he saw the girl running he was frightened but curiously went to the classroom. That’s when he saw Delle lying in a pool of blood and the teacher standing against the wall crying and shaking. Some students were holding her so she wouldn’t fall.
This struck the lives of many across the country, with Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder even dedicating a song to Delle.
“Jeremy spoke in class today,” Vedder sings in Pearl Jam’s famous song “Jeremy.”
When reading the newspaper, Vedder became aware of the incident and wanted to create a song discussing the passing and it included some details of a kid Vedder knew in middle school.
According to a Billboard interview with Vedder, he said he knew a kid in seventh grade who came into a classroom with a gun and shot a fish tank. Vedder had got into a fight with the student about a year before and in the song he details “we unleashed a lion.”
The spokesman sergeant on the case, Ray Pennington, said Delle left a suicide letter with a friend; however, investigators could not disclose its contents. Further information was reported when Pennington said Delle’s attendance was sporadic and the principal had discussed the issue with Delle and his father.
Police did not known the reason for the suicide.
Lisa Moore, a student at the school, knew Delle from in-school suspension, The Daily Morning News reported. It was claimed that Moore and Delle would pass notes back and forth.
“He and I would pass notes back and forth and he would talk about life and stuff,” she said.
Moore said he always wrote at the end of a letter “write back,” but on the Monday before his passing he wrote “later days.”
Some students never notice any signs from Delle.
Sean Forrester remembered Delle as friendly.
“He never looked like he had anything wrong with him. He always made a joke over everything,” Forrester said.
Delle was the son of Joseph R. Delle and Wanda Crane; he lived with his father. It was reported that Delle and his father were in counseling together, but no further information was given.
The shooting at the high school was the first known teen suicide in the school, though there had been about five teen suicides before in the town.
Throughout the years, the song “Jeremy” has brought more awareness to Delle’s story and victims of suicide. In Texas from 2012-14, the rates of teen suicides were 11.92 per 100,000.