Many in Wisconsin are in shock and mourning at the announcement that a popular morning news anchor and former college basketball player committed suicide last Saturday.
WAOW anchor Neena Pacholke, 27, was known for her “contagious smile and happy-go-lucky demeanor.”
News of the apparent suicide took many by surprise. Neena’s older sister, Kaitlynn Pacholke, told the Tampa Bay Times that Neena was engaged to be married at the time of her death.
WAOW released this statement:
“Neena Pacholke, our beloved morning anchor, passed away suddenly Saturday. The entire team here at News 9 are absolutely devastated by the loss as we know so many others are as well.”
“She was just like a little ball of sunshine, and her smile was massive,” Kaitlynn Pacholke told the Tampa Bay Times Monday morning. “My sister was by far the happiest person I thought I knew.”
One of Pacholke’s last posts on Twitter was a retweet from author Jon Gordon:
“We are not positive because life is easy. We are positive because life can be hard,” Gordon wrote in the original tweet. “Give yourself (and others) grace. Speak life and encourage others. Look for the good today. Remember your WHY. Believe the best is yet to come.”
The News 9 team was quick to praise Pacholke.
Neena’s co-anchor Brendan Mackey noted Pacholke’s smile and bright personality: “She was a kind person with a big heart and a contagious smile, and we will miss her greatly.”
Mackey added: “[Neena] was the brightest light in the room” with the “biggest smile and the funniest laugh.”
Pacholke grew up in Tampa and graduated from the University of South Florida. Her personal website notes that she joined News 9 as a multimedia journalist in May 2017 and was promoted to anchor in February 2019.
Pacholke played basketball for the University of South Florida. USF women’s basketball team head coach Jose Fernandez said many are “devastated” over the news of Pacholke’s death.
“Our prayers are with the Pacholke family during this extremely difficult time. Please keep them in your thoughts,” Fernandez posted to Twitter.
Kaitlynn Pacholke shared a solemn reminder about depression and suicide in an interview with the Tampa Bay Times:
“Sometimes you just don’t know what people are going through, no matter how much you think you know someone. … My sister had access to every resource you could imagine. She was loved by everybody. She was so good at her job.
“She just radiated love and positivity, and she just cared so much about pouring into other people, and always put other people first,” she told the local Florida paper of her sister. “I think she did that at the expense of not caring about herself.”
A profile in the New York Post included the following information:
If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts or are experiencing a mental health crisis and live in New York City, you can call 1-888-NYC-WELL for free and confidential crisis counseling. If you live outside the five boroughs, you can dial the 24/7 National Suicide Prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or go to SuicidePreventionLifeline.org.
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