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Jarad and I were always close. We liked to play pinball together. We had long conversations about his future and the world in general. But like any mother and son, we had our problems. Jarad came from a family where academics were the top priority, so I wanted him to focus on school, but he was always more interested in music. His teachers often told me that he was extremely talented, but that he was always focused on his music. I often found him in the studio in the afternoon, chasing his dream. He was laser focused. In the end, Jarad won the battle and I agreed to let him take a year after high school to work on his own music and his vision for Juice WRLD. When his career took off, I left my quality management position to join his team. Jarad recorded music every day, in every town he was in. He literally amassed hundreds and hundreds of songs. The lyrics and melodies are all made of his beautiful mind.
Jarad and I have often had frank discussions about his issues with addiction, anxiety and depression. I think he felt comfortable being honest with me because I never judged him. I recognized that what Jarad was dealing with was an illness and I know he really wanted to be free from the demons that plagued him. As a parent, I believed early on and helped Jarad gain access to advice. I encouraged him to always share his feelings.
I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of love following the loss of my son. Her loving spirit which is communicated through her music has touched so many people. I started Live Free 999 so that his death could mean something to other mothers whose sons and daughters are struggling with the same kinds of issues as my son.
My message to parents and children is simple. You don’t have to suffer alone. You don’t have to be ashamed of your mental health issues. There is help. There is a way out.
On Mental Health Day 2020, I launched a new website www.livefree999.org in the hope that it will be a resource for those who struggle. If we can help even one Mother and their son or daughter in our work here, Jarad’s death will be meaningful and his positive, loving and creative spirit will endure.
Mme Carmela Wallace