Mental health in Cherry Creek School District

Jackson Langford remembered: 'He was happy to be anybody’s friend'

Mom remembers Jackson Langford, emphasizes following own path

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Olivia Langford laughs when she looks back on one of the few times her son was challenging to deal with.

“He ran out of school in fourth or fifth grade because he was mad at a teacher. Worst thing he’d ever done,” Langford laughed. “He was a really good kid.”

During a math computer game, Jackson Langford had figured out how to give everyone unlimited points — much to the anger of his teacher, his mom said.

“He was very intelligent, probably too smart for his own good most of the time,” Olivia Langford said. “Very caring and kind of quiet, but could be really goofy and silly and really had a great sense of humor.”

The Eaglecrest High School student had his typical teen quirks: He loved memes. He always had a LaCroix beverage in his hand. He loved anything with bacon.

But he also had a knack for seeking out kids who didn’t fit in as well as others and making sure they knew he cared, Olivia Langford said.

“We had a family friend who had Asperger’s (syndrome), and he was much younger than Jackson, and he’d always tell everyone Jackson was his best friend,” Olivia Langford said. “Most kids in middle or high school would have been embarrassed by that, but Jackson, he was really happy to be anybody’s friend.”

Inwardly, Jackson struggled with seeing a lack of purpose in his future. The 16-year-old took his own life in April.

“He felt very pressured to always look for the next thing: think about college, career, about having kids … ” Olivia Langford said. “I think he kind of just wanted to be a kid, you know?”

Suicide is complex, and there are usually multiple causes, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Jackson put his all into anything he enjoyed: playing trombone and piano, and gymnastics, which he did since early childhood.

“He’d want people to enjoy life and be happy, and just live their life,” Olivia Langford said. “Whatever that means for you, do it. That’s what he would want people to know.”

Jackson knew his parents accepted him and didn’t have unreasonable expectations for him, Olivia Langford said, but all parents should say that to their kids more, she added.

Make sure they “know that they’re accepted,” Langford said, “for exactly who they are and exactly what they think.”

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