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Jeremy: The real story about the tragedy behind the Pearl Jam song

Jeremy Delle committed suicide in a classroom at Richardson High School, and Pearl Jam later named a song after him. For 27 years, his mother hasn't spoken publicly about Jeremy's death – until now.

You've likely heard the Pearl Jam song "Jeremy."

What you might not know is that the story behind the song happened in North Texas.

Jeremy Delle was 15 years old on Jan. 8, 1991, when he walked into his English class at Richardson High School and committed suicide in front of a room full of other students.

Over the last 27 years, Jeremy's mother hasn't spoken publicly about her son's death – until now.

Credit: WFAA
Jeremy Delle (left) and Wanda

"That day that he died did not define his life," said Wanda, Jeremy's mother. "He was a son, a brother, a nephew, a cousin, a grandson. He was a friend. He was talented."

She said the day he killed himself, everything changed.

"I was in my office at work," Wanda said of the moment she heard of her son's death. "... I didn't believe it. I was in shock. Not my son. I was going to pick him up that afternoon at school."

She went into "a fog."

Credit: WFAA
Wanda, Jeremy's mother

Brittany King, 16 at the time, was a student in the classroom when Jeremy killed himself.

Credit: WFAA
Brittany King points to her high school picture.

"This was a big wakeup call," she said. "Like, you know what? Life is not all hunky-dory all the time. Real things, tragedies happen."

"It made me grow up pretty quick, literally overnight," King said.

She said she remembers the moment like it was yesterday.

Credit: WFAA
Brittany King

"Shock and fear went into my mind," she said. "All the students kinda ran into the back of the room and huddled."

Then, King made a split second decision she said will forever haunt her.

"Should I look?" she said as she began to tear up while she recalled the aftermath. "I remember thinking that. 'Should I look?' And I did, I looked. I don't know why. I don't know why I looked. And I'll never forget. I will never forget it."

Credit: WFAA
A newspaper clipping after Jeremy Delle's death.

A newspaper clipping about the shooting caught the attention of Pearl Jam, and the rest is history.

"I was angry at them for writing that song," King said. "I thought, you don't know. You weren't there. That story isn't accurate."

Back at Wanda's home, Jeremy's artwork hangs on the walls.

"He won first prize at the Texas State Fair," his mother said of his talent as an artist. "He won best of shows, and this was all before he was 12 years old."

At 7, he drew an award-winning piece of an elephant. He had a gift.

Credit: WFAA
Jeremy Delle drew this elephant at the age of 7.

Twelve years ago, Wanda decided to move on by helping others. She started leading a grief support group at her church.

Now, when Wanda sees school shootings on the news, she said she thinks of the mothers.

"I think of the sisters," she said. "I think of what'll be said or what opinions will be thought about ... It's the mothers and the sisters that I want to wrap my arms around and tell them that someday it'll be better."

If you or anyone you know feels helpless, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

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