Lake Oswego High champions mental health awareness with ‘L-O Kick Back’

Published: May. 20, 2022 at 6:10 PM PDT
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LAKE OSWEGO Ore. (KPTV) - Brotherhood and belonging, Jordan Taff had both.

“You may think you know what’s going on, but you really don’t,” said Jordan’s mom, Anna Taff.

Anna and Rich Taff are in the seventh month of grieving the loss of their youngest son.

“To live life and move forward because that is what Jordan would have wanted us to do and to heal and to honor his memory because he was special,” Anna said.

Jordan was a Lake Oswego High Class of 2021 grad who could light up any locker room with his positive vibes.

“It was just the perfect storm, I think what happened,” said Rich Taff.

Jordan transferred to Lake Oswego his junior year from Wells. The new kid suited up for The Lakers in the 2019 football title game – when baseball season arrived, so too did COVID-19.

“In the back of your mind, you are always wondering, what could I have done more? Could I have said this? Could I have had this conversation?” said Jake Anders, Lake Oswego High baseball head coach.

Isolation. Separation. Anxiety. Depression.

“He basically started getting depressed in the lockdown environment, and he developed something called malignant catatonia which essentially, your body starts to shut down, you don’t speak, you don’t talk, it was very difficult,” Rich said.

No sports. No school. No connection. Jordan turned to ‘dabbing.’

“We are just seeing the effects of all of this, between school and having kids “normal” so to speak and all of the different things that are occurring with them and if you take that on top of using any kind of substance then it is going to perpetuate it even more,” Anders said.

Hospitalized at Randall’s and sent to Utah for electroconvulsive therapy, it was a two-year odyssey for the Taff family that also took Jordan to Portland’s Unity Health Center for Behavioral Health.

“The people who work at Unity, they’re walking angels,” Rich said. “They are literally angels that walk this earth.”

Unity is a 24-hour service that offers in-patient psychiatric care and a path towards stabilization and recovery for those living through a mental health crisis,

“The mental health resources in the state of Oregon are in a terrible state, we need more hospitals, we need more resources given to people like Jordan. Anyone suffering a mental health condition, they’re just not there,” Rich said.

Jordan earned a scholarship to be a dual-sport athlete at Pacific Lutheran University. After four football games, Taff hung himself in his Tacoma dorm on Oct. 12 at the age of 18.

Friday, Jordan’s alma matter came together for the ‘L-O Kick Back’ – a students versus faculty kickball game organized by the entrepreneur class of Laker Baseball, Head Coach and Teacher, Jake Anders.

“They said they really wanted to focus on teen mental health and they really want to focus on bringing some level of excitement and activity back to the school because they hadn’t had dances, they hadn’t had assemblies,” Anders said.

Promoting community and bettering our own, all the funds collected by the kick back went directly to what Unity needs.

“Things they need for every day, things that kids do like video games or lifting weights and they don’t have a lot of that stuff so that is kind of what we are raising our money for,” Anders said.