On April 29, 2013, our son and brother, Nick Pacha, died by suicide at the University of Minnesota, just a few weeks before the end of freshman year. You can read more about Nick’s story in our book, Saving Ourselves from Suicide—Before and After: How to Ask for Help, Recognize Warning Signs, and Navigate Grief, by Linda Pacha, coming out in March 2020. Look to this website for purchasing information and when it will become available. All proceeds from book sales will go to Nick’s Network of Hope, our 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity.
Young adults frequently struggle with many issues in today’s world. Often, suicides cannot be associated with any one given event or condition, as was the case with Nick. His tragic death has caused us incredible grief, but our family is combating stigma and sharing his story to help other kids, young adults, and their families. This Nick’s Network of Hope website and all the suicide prevention work we do honors Nick because helping others was a hallmark of his life.
Our son and brother was a kind, pure-hearted, charitable person with a strong guiding light. He never hurt or placed a burden on anyone, sometimes to a fault. He would rather apologize for things that weren’t his fault than ever cast aspersions on another. Nick never complained—not even at the end.
Socializing with peers was crucial to Nick, as it is for most teenagers and young adults. Nick, however, was an old soul who found it easier to communicate and interact with adults than kids his age. No matter how hard he tried, he was never able to form the bonds with his peers that most young people take for granted and identify as the core of their social existence. Having a best friend was what Nick wanted most in life. He felt alone, isolated, and rejected, without any hope that things would ever get any better.
If you are also experiencing feelings of loneliness, rejection, isolation, or hopelessness, know that you are not alone. Lean on your family and friends for support. Many around you care. If you do not receive the help you need the first time, don’t give up. Reach out to someone else, like a teacher, coach, or co-worker. Remember to seek professional help when necessary. Our website has some excellent information and resources as a starting point.
For those who sense that others around you are struggling, remember that one text, phone call, or act of human kindness can go a long way. You may have to reach past your comfort zone to let someone know you care. The question is not, what if I reach out, and I am wrong? The question is, what if I don’t reach out, and I am right?
The many peers who attended Nick’s Memorial Service and gave heartfelt testimonies to his character and how he positively impacted their lives represent all the people in each one of our lives who care about us. They are there, even if we don’t realize it. We are all loved and cared about in this world much more than we may perceive.
May peace and love always guide you. Remember, there is always hope. You are very important and loved more than you know.