[Warning: Potentially Triggering Content]
Many are mourning the loss of former University of South Florida basketball player Neena Pacholke following her tragic death at just 27 years old over the weekend.
According to TMZ, the former basketball star was making suicidal statements over the weekend which alarmed those close to her. A spokesperson for the Wausau Police Department explained to the outlet that officers were dispatched to the young woman’s home in Wausau, Wisconsin Saturday morning for a welfare check — but upon arrival no one came to the door. Eventually authorities made their way into the home forcefully to discover the unthinkable: Neena was dead.
Authorities at the time explained “foul play is not suspected.” Her sister, Kaitlynn Pacholke, later confirmed to the Tampa Bay Times the college athlete, who had become a popular local news anchor in recent years, had died by suicide. She explained:
“My sister was by far the happiest person I thought I knew. 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.”
What a devastating feeling to know that someone you thought you were so close with, someone you thought you knew so well, was privately battling what ultimately became an inescapable darkness.
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The late baller served as a point guard for the USF women’s basketball team where she lettered from 2013-2016. The team released an official Twitter statement Monday morning in response to the tragic news:
“The Bulls are heartbroken to learn of the sudden loss of our beloved former teammate Neena Pacholke (2013-16). Our thoughts and prayers are with Neena and her family during this extremely difficult time.”
See the full post (below):
The Bulls are heartbroken to learn of the sudden loss of our beloved former teammate Neena Pacholke (2013-16). Our thoughts and prayers are with Neena and her family during this extremely difficult time. pic.twitter.com/kMDyBZVsOG
— USF W. Basketball (@USFWBB) August 29, 2022
Neena was a morning news anchor for News 9 in Wisconsin, where she consistently extended kindness and positivity and made positive lasting impressions. A rep for the station released a shocked statement Sunday regarding her death:
“The entire team here at News 9 are absolutely devastated by the loss as we know so many others are as well. Neena loved this community and the people who lived here. She was a kind person with a big heart and a contagious smile and we will miss her greatly.”
See the full post (below):
We are absolutely devastated to share with you all that Neena passed away suddenly. Please keep her family and friends in your thoughts. Feel free to share any favorite memories or condolences in the comments below. https://t.co/yE9eamrjiW
— News 9 WAOW (@WAOW) August 29, 2022
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Neena’s sister remembers her fondly, noting in her Monday interview with the Tampa Bay Times:
“She was just like a little ball of sunshine, and her smile was massive and she could just make you feel like you were the most important person, whether she knew you for five minutes or her whole life. … We would be out at coffee and someone would recognize her, and she would lighten them up the way she’s made me feel the last 27 years.”
Rest in peace to a truly pure soul.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
[Images via Neena Pacholke/Facebook]