NORMAL — Jake Miller’s impact at University High School was positive academically, athletically and socially.
ISU Lab Schools Superintendent Jeff Hill called the senior “a good student” who was “very well-liked by the student body.”
Yet despite Miller’s successes in the classroom and the swimming pool, where he was a multiple state champion, depression “continued to cloud Jake’s ability to fully appreciate his bright future and how much he was loved by so many,” Hill said.
Hill, with the consent of Miller’s family, confirmed Saturday that Miller took his own life on Friday.
“He had been struggling with depression,” Hill said. “That was a long and ongoing struggle for him. He will be sorely missed.”
Hill shared the news of Miller’s death Friday evening with U High students and staff through recorded and text messages. The school was open from 6 to 10 p.m. Friday to provide support for students.
There will be a prayer vigil in Miller's memory at 6:30 p.m. Sunday at 1 W. Front St. in El Paso. Hill said in an email sent Sunday morning that Miller lived in El Paso and attended school there through eighth grade.
"The principal of El Paso-Gridley High School contacted me to make sure all U High students and families were aware of this prayer vigil in case they would like to attend," Hill said.
Miller won the 200-yard individual medley and 500 freestyle in last year’s state meet, leading U High to the team championship. His 200 IM time of 1 minute, 48.01 was a state meet record and the best in Pantagraph area history.
He also was on two winning relays as U High became the first school south of Interstate 80 to win the team title.
“Words can’t describe it,” Miller said that day. “We are all ecstatic. It was a goal to get the IM record. I knew what the record was.”
Miller, 18, committed to the University of Louisville for a full scholarship. He also had qualified for the 2016 Olympic Trials in the 400 individual medley. He was leading The Pantagraph Honor Roll this season in the 200 IM and 500 freestyle.
Hill said the family indicated Miller is a tissue donor and his tissue will help “at least 25 people,” adding there will be therapy dogs at school on Monday as part of a plan to further assist students.
“We also will have a station set up in Stroud Auditorium where students who are grieving or need support will be able to access counselors throughout the day,” Hill said.