In memory: Andrew Lannen

Andrew Lawrence Lannen, 24, of Wheaton, Ill., passed away on Thursday, Nov. 19. He was born in Severodvinsk, Russia, on July 28, 1996.

Andrew will be deeply missed by his loving parents, Tom and Heidi; his brother, Matthew (Mackenzie); girlfriend, Emma Steo; grandparents Ralph and Irene Kautzman, and grandmother Theresa Lannen; aunts, Karen (Allen) Shreve, Alivia Bell, Tami (Armand) Marciano, Julie (Doug) Lannen-Neet, Kathy (Ron) Bickford, and Linda (Maralee) Lannen; uncles, Pat Lannen and Mark Goedken ; cousins Damien (Suhki), Brian (Laura), Aaron (Alexis), Amy (Kurt), Ashley, Krista, Laura and Meg; lifelong family friend, Anna; and his beloved dog, Payton. Andrew is also survived many friends.

He is preceded in death by his grandfather, Lawrence Lannen; and by his aunt, Holli Kautzman. Andrew was a gentle and compassionate person – always putting others ahead of himself and bringing out the best in people. He enjoyed spending time outdoors both at home in Illinois and while at school in Colorado. At the time of his death, he was weeks away from completing his undergraduate degree at Colorado State University.

Among the many qualities that endeared Andrew to everyone he met were his loyalty and his genuine concern for others. Andrew lived with integrity and a zest for new life experiences through his love of travel and sense of adventure.

Due to the current environment and restrictions, services will be private.

Charitable donations may be made to Catholic Charities – LOSS (Loving Outreach to Survivors of Suicide) and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention:

Once you’ve chosen your donation amount, please select and enter the designation ‘Other’ and in the text box enter ‘The Loss Program’; next, check ‘This gift is in honor, memory, or support of someone” and type in “Andrew Lannen.”

A message from the Lannen family:

Heidi and I lost our beautiful son, Andrew, to suicide early Thursday morning. The purpose of this message is to mourn the loss of Andrew, celebrate his life, and encourage those who need emotional help to get it.

I hope you will indulge us as we brag about our son a little. In these crazy times we find ourselves in, we won’t be able to have services to celebrate his life with family and friends.

Andrew was born in Russia with a hole in his heart. His birth parents never took him home from the hospital. He spent his first months of life in the hospital, eventually having surgery and transitioning to an orphanage. At 22 months, we welcomed him into our family alongside our birth son, Matt, who was 3 years old at the time. The “Irish twins” grew up together until Thursday. Heidi and I find a tiny bit of peace in knowing that our last interactions with Andrew were hugs and the words “luv ya” just talk about the pie he wanted for Thanksgiving and plans to help us with a project out at the lake.

Andrew was an amazing person. He was such a protector of the “little guy”. Although he was a big strong young man, he often found himself sticking up for others. Unfortunately, he just couldn’t stick up for himself as easy – he was often very hard on himself. Andrew didn’t always see what the rest of the world saw in him – his incredible heart and potential. Andrew was complex and could be prickly. He wanted the world to be a better place – he would get frustrated and exhausted from the pressures of “making it” as an adult.

Andrew excelled at nearly anything physical he tried despite being practically blind in one eye. He was an amazing snow skier, water skier, fisherman, rock climber, swimmer, backpacker, etc. We often think that some of our best times as a family were the many times that we were in a ski condo with just the four of us playing Euchre, telling stories and laughing. No pressure from the outside world. No technology or need for immediate sensory overload. No social media pressures unfairly comparing your insides to everyone’s outsides. That memory of private time together will be one that the three of us will share forever. He was 30 days from earning his bachelor’s degree from Colorado State University – and it looks like CSU will grant him his degree posthumously. Andrew had overcome so much in his life, it’s so hard to imagine that he succumbed to this epidemic of young people taking their own lives.

We don’t want Andrew to be talked about in whispers. He was a wonderful and beautiful person with some emotional challenges. Like many, he suffered with attention deficit, anxiety, and most likely some form of depression. Andrew hated being singled out so it was often difficult to get him the help he needed. If you had a broken arm, you would go to the doctor and get a cast. The same thing should apply to mental health.  We were never able to convince him; and are now left using our contacts, platform, and resources to push this critical message. We all need to take note and encourage those who need help to go get it.

He talked about his interest in becoming a school or teen counselor, he just didn’t like academics. It did not come easy to him, though he was a highly intelligent and well-spoken person with an incredible sense of humor. His perseverance to complete his degree is amazing. We were so looking forward to showering him with praise next month, it is surreal to think that now, that won’t happen.

We would give anything to get him back. Instead of talking about this in the shadows, our hope is that if someone with so much love and potential can succumb, then we all need to do more.

Our brother-in-law, Allen summed it up perfectly: “Andrew was a special young man that you brought into our lives. I will always remember his love for fishing at the lake. Depression is a silent and ugly disease”. We find comfort in knowing that if Andrew was in pain, he is now at peace. Our family is trying to think of his life like a shooting star, much too brief but spectacular. We hope you will think of him in that way, and that maybe that will bring a smile to you from time-to-time. Go hug your family, although you’ll never be as good at the bear hug as Andrew was.