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Parents of Horizon Middle School student lost to suicide to push for change

A grieving Moorhead dad says he's ready to fight to prevent others from going through the same loss as his family.

Editor's note: If you or a loved one is in crisis, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 ( 1-800-273-TALK) .

MOORHEAD — Mark Jones joined his family and dozens of others at Horizon Middle School the night of Friday, Oct. 29, to remember his 13-year-old son who took his own life.

About 45 minutes into the silent candlelight vigil for 13-year-old Jacoby Blake, his father broke that silence with a message he is going to push for change.

"I am honored to be his father, I am grateful to be his father, he meant so much to me, so much to us," Jones said.

The night full of emotions outside of Horizon Middle School as about 50 people of all ages held candles to remember a boy who brightened their lives.

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An 8th grader who was all about spreading goodness, who loved to laugh and joke and had big dreams. Jacoby was working toward his lifeguard certification so he could buy his own basketball shoes to work toward his goal of one day playing in the NBA.

"Be nice to people because you may not have a chance to do it again," Jones said.

His father shared their devastation 10 days ago.. when 13-year-old Jacoby Blake took his own life. He leaves behind his parents and a twin brother Jalen

"I was there when he departed, we were there when he departed," Jones said.

While he could not save his son's life, Jacoby's dad made a promise to the community.

"...that no other child dies at 13 because of mental illness, because of depression, anxiety, stress, peer pressure, bullying, none of that," Jones said.

Jacoby's dad said his son struggled through the pandemic getting help. It was online instead of in-person.

"When a child says I need help, we gotta get them help right then and there, not next week when there's an opening, not tomorrow, but today," Jones said.

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Before leaving, the group said the Lord's prayer before saying a goodnight that could be heard above — to a life lost too soon, but to a boy who will forever be in their hearts.

Jacoby's parents asked that everyone say a prayer for Jacoby Joseph Blake. A service for Jacoby will be held at Boulger Funeral Home Saturday, Oct. 30, at 2 p.m.

Matt Henson is an Emmy award-winning reporter/photographer/editor for WDAY. Prior to joining WDAY in 2019, Matt was the main anchor at WDAZ in Grand Forks for four years. He was born and raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia and attended college at Lyndon State College in northern Vermont, where he was recognized twice nationally, including first place, by the National Academy for Arts and Science for television production. Matt enjoys being a voice for the little guy. He focuses on crimes and courts and investigative stories. Just as often, he shares tear-jerking stories and stories of accomplishment. Matt enjoys traveling to small towns across North Dakota and Minnesota to share their stories. He can be reached at mhenson@wday.com and at 610-639-9215. When he's not at work (rare) Matt resides in Moorhead and enjoys spending time with his daughter, golfing and attending Bison and Sioux games.
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