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Jaycee Michael Reed Crossland
 

Jaycee Crossland was a was a bright young man with big dreams and plans. An active and well known member in his small, tight knit community; everybody who encountered him was instantly attracted to his contagious smile and warm heart.


Over the several years leading up to his death, as his parents, Will & Amanda Crossland began building their small car repair business, Jaycee was enthusiastically involved. Because if there was one thing he LOVED, it was cars. From rusty old classics to shiny new sports cars, if it had 4 wheels, you can bet Jaycee knew something about it. But building a name for the family business means getting to know your community on a first name basis and in this arena, Jaycee excelled. He made friends everywhere he went and left a lasting impression that made it hard for people to forget him because he loved so much his whole personality showed it. Cars, music, and his place in the community, but most of all he loved spending time with his family. Camping, trips to the beach, museums and fishing, he seemed to blossom anytime he was experiencing another adventure with his family. He loved history and was always eager to learn about new things and go new places.


In September of 2022 though, something changed for Jaycee. He had told his family in March that he was gay and was immediately accepted and embraced, told how proud they were of him and celebrated. They shared some concern with him about the conservative nature of the community and anxiety about how his news would be received, but supported his choice to decide when he was comfortable sharing his truth. Based on reports from the school, on September 19th, he “came out”to his school class. His parents were unaware of his announcement at the time, but by September 28th, he was experiencing enough fallout that he let them know and they had a conversation about the difficulty some of the community would have learning to accept an aspect of him they didn’t understand. They encouraged him not to hide who he was, but just use caution about who he told outside his circle and not let negative opinions have the power to impact him. The next morning, he was reluctant to go to school and shared more details with his dad about several bullying incidents that had taken place at school. His parents reached out to the bullys’ parents to address the problem and when Jaycee was asked later he said the activity had stopped and he had actually made friends with one of the boys involved.

The weekend before his death was a happy one. Saturday was a Market day and Jaycee spent the day handing out Halloween treat bags to kids, showing off his dad’s car and helping the many vendors he was friends with. The family shared dinner together at the local social dining hall before calling it a day and then spent Sunday goofing off with the family; playing games and watching movies. Jaycee was happy and engaged. He had always in the past been straightforward with his parents and told them about difficulties, insecurities and fears he was feeling without reservation, so nobody had any reason to think he may be struggling.


The next day, on October 10, 2022, Jaycee was gone. On the in-home camera, Jaycee headed toward their bedroom and said to his brother Blake, that he was going he to grab his laundry. Amanda thought nothing of it until her 11 year old called just before she arrived home to tell her Jaycee had never come back out with the laundry. That’s how Amanda knew something was wrong. She raced to her bedroom and with no sign of Jaycee, reached for the closet door, but it wouldn’t budge. After struggling to get it open, she first saw her sons arm covered in blood and thought he must have cut himself, then she saw the gun and realized what he had done. She tried in vain to revive him, but it was too late.


In the weeks following Jaycees death, the Crosslands received an outpouring of love and support, but also learned that the bullying their son had experienced at school was much more involved than just a few instances and involved teachers and complacent administrators. Once they started asking questions in the community about this apparent issue not being disclosed by the district, they were contacted by hundreds of parents who’s children had or were struggling with being bullied and the school undermining the issue. Many had moved or pulled their kids to different districts, private or home schools. This is when Amanda decided to do something to honor Jaycee’s memory and raise awareness to the impact bullying can have on mental health, the effects suicide has on families and communities
and how to talk about and prevent suicide. And that's how Jaycee’s death inspired the birth of Jaycee’s Hope.


Jaycees Hope is a non-profit organization dedicated to:

  • Raising awareness and providing resources for those struggling with mental health and thoughts of suicide.

  • Working in conjunction with schools and organizations to encourage anti-bullying programs be implemented and staff trained to recognize and address bullying.

  • Being a voice of support for the LBGTQ community and find ways to incorporate that communities celebrations, achievement, hopes and concerns into involvement of/with the overall community. Identifying inclusive groups and organizations in the community and promoting and providing them with sponsorship funding and support.

  • We hope Jaycee’s Hope can provide a shelter for those struggling through their own storm and have

faith that Jaycee is smiling down on us and if he was still with us today, would be the MOST involved
in spreading the message to #bekindforjaycee.

05/09/2007-10/10/2022
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