Entry: Jeremy spoke in class today... 7.7.2006

Jeremy: the Boy Behind the Song

by Kristy Parker

Today I decided to feature "Jeremy" by Pearl Jam because I remember being profoundly effected by the video when I first saw it as a young child. I was too naive when I first heard the song to really understand its meaning, but I knew there was something evil and sinister that happened to this Jeremy boy. It made me, for the first time in my short life, doubt the saftey of my own home and community. I no longer thought my daddy could protect me from everything, especially evil more real and more invisible than the boogeyman who hid in my closet.

I hadn't seen this video for years, and then I watched it today and it just floored me. Especially after growing up with the Colombine shootings in 1999, this video in turn seemed somewhat eeriely prophetic and even more chilling than before. What I didn't know prior to today, was that "Jeremy" was actually inspired by real events. A boy named Jeremy Delle killed himself in 1991 in front of a classroom of 16 peers and his teacher. Doesn't that make lyrics like these resonate even more deeply in the base of your spine?:

Jeremy spoke in class today
Try to forget this...
Try to erase this...
From the blackboard.

I'm going to include the actual newspaper report written up about this event because I think its important that when we listen to "Jeremy" we realize that this song is in memory of a boy who didn't know any other way out. I think Pearl Jam's purpose in putting this song out there isn't to scare us, but to make us realize how precious every life is, even the kid who sits in the back of the classroom, talking to himself and scribbling into a journal that is more real to him than the people who taunt him. We need to battle this invisible evil that is apathy, that is there everytime a child feels alone and unloved in this world. I think Kurt Vonnegut gave some pretty good advice on how to fight apathy, and stop senseless suicides from occuring when he wrote the following words in his novel, The Sirens of Titan: "A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved."

I think Eddie Vedder said it best though, when he was interviewed about the song: "you kill yourself and you make a big old sacrifice and try to get your revenge. That all you're gonna end up with is a paragraph in a newspaper. [...] it does nothing nothing changes. The world goes on and you're gone. The best revenge is to live on and prove yourself. Be stronger than those people. And then you can come back".

Well said.


Richardson Teen-Ager Kills Himself in Front of Classmates

by Bobbi Miller, Annette Nevins

RICHARDSON - A Richardson High School sophomore, described as a loner who had been in counseling, fatally shot himself Tuesday in front of a classroom of about 30 students. Jeremy Wade Delle, 16, who had transferred from a Dallas school, died instantly after firing a .357-caliber Magnum into his mouth about 9:45 a.m. police said.

Because he had missed class, the teacher in his second-period English class told Jeremy to get an admittance slip from the school office. Instead, he returned with the gun, police said. He walked directly to the front of the classroom. "Miss, I got what I really went for," he said, then placed the barrel in his mouth and fired, according to Sgt. Ray Pennington, a police spokesman.

The shooting occurred before the students or teacher Fay Barnett could react, said school district spokeswoman Susan Dacus-Wilson. It stunned students and faculty members throughout the school at 1250 W. Belt Line Road. Brian Jackson, 16, said he was working the combination on his locker just outside Jeremy's English class when he heard a loud bang "like someone had just slammed a book on a desk."

"I thought they were doing a play or something," he said. "But then I heard a scream and a blond girl came running out of the classroom and she was crying."

Frightened, but curious, Brian looked into the classroom and saw Jeremy lying on the floor bleeding. "The teacher was standing against the wall crying and shaking," Brian said. "Some people were standing around her holding her as if to keep her from falling."

Another student, Howard Perre Felman, and 11th-grader, was in government class when he heard the shot. At first students joked about the noise, thinking that someone was playing around, he said.

"But then we heard a girl running down the hall screaming," he said. "It was a scream from the heart."

Sgt. Pennington said Jeremy apparently had given some thought to his actions because he left a suicide note with a classmate. Investigators would not disclose its contents. Principal Jerry Bishop said Jeremy's class attendance had been sporadic. Mr. Bishop said he had met with the boy and his father to discuss the problem. Police said that Jeremy had been in counseling with his father, but they did not know the specifics.

Sgt. Pennington said police did not know where the youth got the gun and had no clue why he would kill himself in a crowded classroom. The classmates who witnessed the shooting were immediately ushered to a secluded room for counseling. About 30 members of the school district's volunteer crisis team arrived to counsel students.

Classes continued throughout the day. Some students were allowed to leave early, but counselors encouraged them to stay at school and discuss their feelings. Few students knew Jeremy well because he had attended Bryan Adams High School in Dallas last year and had enrolled in the Richardson school in October. They described him as a loner.

"He was real quiet and he acted down at times. He acted sad," said Koury Kashiem, 15.

Lisa Moore, 16, said she knew Jeremy from the in-school suspension program. "He and I would pass notes back and forth and he would talk about life and stuff," she said. She said Jeremy wanted to discuss the boy she was dating and also mentioned that he was having trouble with one of his teachers. He signed all of his notes, "Write back." But on Monday he wrote, "Later days."

"I didn't know what to make of it," she said. "But I never thought this would happen."

However, Sean Forrester, 17, remembered Jeremy as friendly with no outward signs of turmoil.

"He never looked like he had anything wrong with him. . .He always made a joke over everything," Sean said.

Jeremy was the son of Joseph R. Delle of Richardson, with whom he lived, and Wanda Crane. The couple divorced in 1979, according to Dallas County court records. Mr. Delle could not be reached for comment. Ms. Crane, through a spokesman, declined to comment.

Tuesday's shooting was the first known teen suicide in a Richardson school. It was the first by a Richardson student since 1988, when student suicides prompted the creation of the crisis intervention program in May that year.

Three Richardson students committed suicide during the first half of 1988. They included a sixth-grader and two sophomores at J. J. Pearce High School. One of the sophomores hanged himself from a tree behind Mohawk Elementary School during a weekend.

In 1985, a 17-year-old Arlington student shot himself in front of four fellow students in the drama classroom at Arlington High School. Earlier, and outbreak of teen suicides in Plano, where eight youths killed themselves in 1983 and 1984, helped focus national attention on the plight of suicidal teen-agers.

Students and counselors agreed that the shock of Jeremy's public demise would have a lingering effect on the Richardson students, particularly the witnesses.

"They are going to go through a ton of sadness, anxiety and fear," said Sheryl Pender, a counselor with Willow Park Hospital in Plano and former director of the Suicide and Crisis Center in Dallas.

Staff writer Jeffrey Weiss contributed to this report.

If you want to learn more about Jermey Delle, check out the following links:

Jeffrey's Spoken

Wikipedia article on "Jeremy"

The Definitive "Jeremy" Pearl Jam Page


January 10, 2007   06:28 PM PST
I don't know if anyone still checks this thing, but whatever.

I think that Eddie Vedder was taken in by the shock of this story just as everyone on this page was. I originally heard 'Jeremy' long ago, probably when I was 7 or 8 (I'm 21 now). I've known the real Jeremy story for a few years now. The thing that still eats at me about this is why he did it. His classmates, the principal, even his parents have never said why he did it. He obviously had depression problems, lonliness. But I wonder if it was one final straw, one specific thing that pushed him to do it. You know he thought about it over that weekend before the 8th of January 1991. On Monday he signs his final note to his friend "Later Days". It's been said that he had no enemies, so I see a weak case for revenge. My question is, does anyone know the real reason why? Perhaps he just wanted his troubles to be known, and doing it this way forced his peers to comprehend that.

Rest In Peace J.W.D.
January 5, 2007   05:03 PM PST
My name is Jeremy so I used to ignorantly sing this song when I was a child. I later found out it's meaning, but it didn't phase me too much. It is very creepy to me, because I randomly found a page about him, and I was immediatly drawn to him, being a 16 year old sophmore myself and when I read the first artical, his middle name showed and began with a W, like mine. I could relate being that kid who doesn't seem like he has a lot of problems but deep hidden he has many.

Also, when I was suicidal in middle school, I thought of killing myself infront of the class.

His charecter intrigues me and I want to learn more about him, poor kid.

Me myself, no longer suicidal, and living a pretty good life, just didn't want anyone to worry.
July 12, 2006   02:32 AM PDT
Jeremy video itself it's mind blowing , the first PJ concept video, eddie's performance, the story telling, the images, the actors...wow...did you know that PJ made two video for Jeremy? but PJ drops it as it was not up to their meet. Its available in the net. It's in black and white
July 7, 2006   02:28 PM PDT
What's even more eerie about this video is that the actor who portrays Jeremy actually looks pretty much exactly like him, as you can tell from his yearbook photo. Poor Jeremy, if only he would have stayed alive and faught against the apathy that set out to destroy him. It turns out that the kid had lots going against him.

1. He had just been released from a psychiatric facility, where they deemed him automatically "cured" when the insurance money ran out.

2. He had his locker searched (questionable materials were found) and was put in In School Suspension for several weeks.

3. He was new to the school, and this suspension made him seem like a reject and a bad kid, which apparently he wasn't.

4. He was isolated in suspension, unable to talk to classmates who have said they wanted to reach out to him and talk to him.

Its sad that such tragedy could have been prevented with more sensitive treatment of his boy. Not every case and child should be punished the same way for wrong doings...especially not if this child needs his classmates to get well and thrive again.
The Queen
July 7, 2006   02:17 PM PDT
I remember the first time i saw the video. I thought it had something to do with Eddie and his struggle with depression, I had NO IDEA that it was based on actual events.

That completly blows my mind.

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