Jesse’s Story

As told by his mother Mindy Colliss

Jesse was a Red Seal Welder in northern British Columbia. He had two daughters, two and six. He was separated from their mom, and he was engaged to be married to another girl. So he had two step sons aged 10 and 12 also.

I think it was depression. I think alcohol dependency had a part in it. He did suffer from depression as an adolescent. I had taken him to the doctor for depression around age nine and again around age 14. Both times, you know, he wasn’t given medication or anything. He would just talk to the doctor. He blatantly refused any kind of counseling growing up, I should have pushed harder, you know, but I, you know, I pushed as hard as I kind of could.

You know, other than forcing him at 14. How do you force a kid in the car? His dad told me that he did go back to the doctor again around 18. When I saw him – I live in Mexico – so when I was there to visit him last time a year ago, when I look at pictures, I see now that he was he was suffering. But because of COVID and you know, the travel restrictions I hadn’t made it back on my previous trip. So I think I was just so happy to see him. I’m sober now too, and, and I kind of chalked it up to maybe he was uncomfortable. He didn’t want to, you know, wanted to try not to drink as much around me.

Depression is common among people battling an addiction to drugs or alcohol. Substance abuse can trigger or intensify the feelings of loneliness, sadness and hopelessness often associated with depression.

An estimated one-third of people with major depression also have an alcohol problem.

The National Institute of Health Sciences

Also, he hadn’t seen me in a while, and I guess that’s always a little stressful when mom’s all of a sudden in the house. I kind of chalked it up to that, but now. You know, looking back, he never wanted to have his picture taken, especially when I want to do goofy kinds of pictures, and he agreed really easily when I was there. You know, I wanted us all to lay on the floor, you know, with our heads in a circle and take goofy pictures, and he agreed. And I was like, well, that’s weird, but you know, and I almost wonder like if he maybe he had it I don’t know if he had it planned. I don’t know.

The little town where he lived in is a two hour drive from the airport and from kind of the main city. So in our drive both ways, you know, we had really great talks. And our last face to face conversation was wonderful. We talked about a lot. We talked about addictions and, you know, depression. You know, he was always fairly open and honest with me, told me a lot of things that some moms just don’t want to know. And, you know, he knew, he knew he could turn to me. He knew he could turn to a lot of people.

He shot himself. He’d always been interested in guns. In Canada, our gun laws are a lot different. He had what’s called a PAL (Possession and Acquisition Licence), so he was legally allowed to own guns. But the guns that we can have in Canada are like hunting rifles.

He left a text on his phone to his fiancé that said, “I’m sorry, I love you.”

They had had an argument beforehand. And the story I’ve heard is that she went outside to have a cigarette and he went downstairs and then she heard the gunshot ran downstairs, and um, called 911. And kind of, you know, dropped her phone and then she didn’t get the phone. She didn’t actually see the text message until the next day when she was able to have her phone back.


I’ve learned through my program that you can’t make anyone, you know, just quit drinking. They have to do it because they want to do it. And, you know, I had kind of pushed it on him a little bit. But our last visit, all I said to him was, you know, I tried to take a different approach that. I said, you know, just keep in mind that both me and your dad are both in recovery from alcoholism, and there’s a good chance that’s gonna hit you, which he already knew it had. I said, just don’t let it get to that point. You know, I’m not going to tell you to quit drinking because you’re not going to do it until you’re ready. But there is help there when you want it, if you need it, you know.

I tried to kind of a little bit downplay it, not to be so much like, oh, you need to quit drinking and you need to you know, don’t do cocaine and you know, all these things. We haven’t actually got the toxicology report back yet

He died on May 19, 2022. He was 29.

I used to live in BC. We lived in a city called Prince George, and then he moved a couple hours further north.

His biological dad and I, we dated through high school, and got married and had Jesse and then we actually divorced. So we’ve been divorced coming up on almost 29 now, and I was with his stepdad, which he called both of them Dad up until the day he died.


He was an only child. I remember at kindergarten the teacher told me at the parent-teacher interview that, you know, when they had just talked about their siblings that he told everybody that he was a lonely child instead of only child and that broke my heart. You know, and I’m like, No, it means only child. He said. yeah, but I’m lonely.

He didn’t always have a ton of friends. You know, he always had a couple. He was a little bit more of a loner. He made a comment when I was on a video call, our last video call that we had, because they were planning to get married. He was saying that he didn’t have enough friends. He didn’t have enough friends to be in his wedding party, like to match her girls that she was going to have.

I had one friend in specific reach out to me that I had not met but I had heard of him. And he was really, really upset and he said that he felt like he wasn’t a good enough friend to him that he didn’t help. I don’t know if they’d had an argument before that. I haven’t had that conversation with him. I’m not sure. But he had a lot of friends like through work and stuff.


He may have had ADHD and wasn’t diagnosed. He struggled in school. Many nights doing homework in tears and that kind of thing. Then when he was doing his welding program, like he was getting A’s. So I was kind of like, well, how does that work? Because it’s a lot of math. He had to want to do it.

Even growing up, like, you know, sports. He would go but he wouldn’t try. You know, like if they had to run he’d be like, just goofing around. Skating – he’s learning how to skate and he’s laying on the ice. He wanted to go to karate and the kids are kicking this high and he only kicks this high. Then he got older and he anything he showed a real interest in we tried it. He wanted to learn how to play electric guitar. So he got an electric guitar and an amp and, you know, he learned a couple of riffs and that was that. He didn’t care.

But as an adult he was a motorcycle enthusiast, and he had his guns and fishing and saltwater tanks. He transformed part of his house. He took out a whole wall and made a big fish tank in the rec. room in the basement. It was really cool.

And he was a caring father. He absolutely adored his kids.


He didn’t actually like hunting he just liked to have the guns. He never went hunting to my knowledge. But he loved the outdoors. He was very much a redneck kind of a kid.  That’s just the way the way he went. We enjoyed fishing quite a bit.

I started a campaign to raise awareness and funds for charities and it is kind of geared around fishing just because that was what he loved. (See details at the bottom of this post.)


His biological dad called me. His stepdad actually doesn’t talk to me, hasn’t talked to me in 11 years, but he stepdad called his sister who works with my best friend in Canada. So my best friend was calling. Normally she would just text me or whatever,but she was actually calling and I kind of ran for the phone and then I felt that my phone in my pocket and my ex-husband was calling and I thought, Okay, that’s weird, why are people calling me? So I’m glad that I answered Jesse’s dad, and he told me.


It’s really a hard thing because I think that fear was always in my mind. And I don’t know if that’s a normal, motherly fear because I was always very protective, always worried about him.

I think that it would come in the back of my mind ever since he was little, and I pushed that out of my mind and wouldn’t allow myself to think about it because Number One, I thought, What kind of mother would even think of that; Number Two, if I think about that, maybe it’ll manifest I guess.

His biological dad’s brother hung himself with an extension cord in the bathroom when we were just teenagers. And you know, it’s funny because we never really talked about it. And I actually just recently asked like, how old was he when that happened? And he was the same age as Jesse, 29. When we had Jesse, it was very important to his dad that we give his brother’s his brother’s name, like for a memory, and I kind of remember thinking, I don’t know if it’s a good idea to name somebody after someone who’s killed themselves. But it was very important to him and I agreed to having it as a middle name. And Jesse did know that he was named after this uncle that had killed himself. I don’t know. I think I think too much.


Telling my story, I think it helps.. You know and the thing is with suicide so many people don’t talk about it. It’s just, I don’t know if people are ashamed or what.  Even my own family isn’t very happy that I’m doing what I’m doing. They’d much prefer I’m sure that we just said it was an accident.

I’ve suffered from depression also, like since I was a teenager, off and on. And here, like since I since I got to Mexico like and actually even before in my other bouts of depression I have thought about taking my life. But I was always able to kind of pull myself out of it. And always Jesse was my reason not to because I thought there’s no way I can do that to Jesse, which is scary.

That’s actually why I quit drinking because my depression had gotten really bad. And those thoughts were coming on bad and I thought if I don’t quit drinking, I’m going to die either by making a really stupid decision and putting myself in a dangerous place or I’m going to kill myself. And so I quit drinking and I think that’s the only thing that’s keeping me sober is knowing if I drink I probably would do it.

That’s actually why I quit drinking because my depression had gotten really bad. And those thoughts were coming on bad and I thought if I don’t quit drinking, I’m going to die either by making a really stupid decision and putting myself in a dangerous place or I’m going to kill myself. And so I quit drinking and I think that’s the only thing that’s keeping me sober is knowing if I drink I probably would do it.

I try and tell myself now when I’m having a super, super bad day that, you know, it’s normal. It’s normal, and I’m feeling what I’m supposed to feel and then it will get better.And I don’t know if it’s a suicide that makes it so bad or that we lost a child. Losing a child is the worst thing, no matter how you lose that child.

Keep it REEL. Ask for help

I started a GoFundMe campaign. It’s called Keep it REEL. Ask for help. It’s for Jesse’s kids and to raise awareness.

Originally, because I am far away I was like, what can I do? I need to do something to help. And I thought, I should do a GoFundMe, you know, just to help the kids and pay for the memorial stuff. And then I was like, well, no, it needs to be for awareness. It’s about raising awareness and now it’s not even about the money so much.

Obviously I want to help the kids, but the awareness is the biggest thing. You know, just that people can feel okay to ask for help. That’s what I want.

If I can help if I can help just one person, save another mother or family from feeling this pain. It’s the worst thing and I’ve just become obsessed with raising awareness.

You can support the Keep it REEL. Ask for help campaign here.

Published by Tim Rowden

The Grief Project is dedicated to sharing the stories of suicide loss survivors as well as information and research on suicide, mental health, advocacy and prevention. I’m a suicide loss survivor, husband, father, writer and journalist, with 33 years experience as a reporter and editor. I believe sharing our stories can help help others who are struggling, whether they are loss survivors or struggling with depression or other mental health issues. We honor them and honor our loved ones by sharing our stories.

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