Fargo mom reeling with grief after 11-year-old son dies by suicide

She hopes her words could save a life after she lost her precious boy to suicide Thursday, Jan. 26.

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Counselors and psychologists will be working with the siblings of Nolan Wilson, who died by suicide on Jan. 26. His fifth-grade classmates at Clara Barton Elementary School have been writing letters, drawing pictures to honor the memory of him.
Contributed / Shushanna Perez-Noriega

This article has been opened up to everyone, regardless of subscription membership status. Those who are dealing with mental illness or suicidal thoughts are urged to call or text the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 988.

FARGO — Nolan Wilson was a fifth grader at Fargo's Clara Barton Elementary School. He dreamed of joining the Army one day. Now, his mom is planning his memorial service.

"Anyone that knew my son knew him as the laughing, smiling, joking, helpful, amazing boy he was," Shushanna Perez-Noriega said of her boy.

Like any mom, Perez-Noriega knows her kids, and she knew everything about her 11-year-old son, Nolan.

"He had plans. He had things and ambitions," she said.


She said he was the witty, funny, sweet child of the bunch.

"He was a leader. He totally was a leader, and I always told him when he grows up, he should be a politician or a lawyer, because he loved to rebuttal," she said.

But Nolan also had moments of pain and hurt in his life. In 2018, his father was killed in Rolette County.

"He lost his father, and he was very close to his dad, and that was something I took him to counseling for," Perez-Noriega said.

Nolan enjoyed school and spending time with his friends. In fact, Perez-Noriega said, the day he died by suicide seemed ordinary.

"He left the school, laughing, giggling, joking, walking with his friends that evening that it happened," she said.

That evening, Perez-Noriega said she saw Nolan playing video games just before she left to grab food for supper, and during that time, Nolan went into his room and locked his door.

She found him and tried to save him but could not.


"(It's like) a broken record of repeating your worst nightmare," Perez-Noriega said. "And I'm going to tell you that after having to find my son the way I did, those images are burned in my head. And it's like, every so often, I get those flashbacks, and I'm reliving it every day.

"He was so loved, and he was so wonderful and he was just an amazing spirit. I was so lucky to be his mom, and if I can just honor him by raising this awareness," she said.

She hopes that by telling her story, she can help others.

"If I could just — one kid. One kid, I could help one mom hold their kid a little bit longer, I would have accomplished something beautiful," Perez-Noriega said.

Counselors and psychologists will be working with the siblings of Nolan, and his classmates at Clara Barton have been writing letters and drawing pictures to honor his memory.

Those memory pieces will be on display at Nolan's memorial service. His family is planning a celebration of life potluck Friday, Feb. 10, at RiverHaven Events Center in Moorhead from 4 to 7 p.m.

That day would have been Nolan's 12th birthday.

Nolan's grandma, Lisa Wilson, set up a GoFundMe account to help with funeral expenses.

Kevin Wallevand has been a Reporter at WDAY-TV since 1983. He is a native of Vining, Minnesota in Otter Tail County. His series and documentary work have brought him to Africa, Vietnam, Haiti, Kosovo, South America, Mongolia, Juarez,Mexico and the Middle East. He is an multiple Emmy and national Edward R. Murrow award recipient.

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