Zachariah Rene, the son of late-night radio host Delilah, took his own life last week. On Saturday, Delilah shared news of the tragedy on social media.
“My dear friends, I need to share some devastating news with you. In the early morning hours of Tuesday, October 3, my son Zachariah, took his life.” She continued, “Please pray for my beloved Zacky, and I will pray for all suffering from this debilitating disease called depression.”
Here’s what you need to know about Zachariah Rene.
1. He Was Being Treated for Depression
According to Delilah, Zachariah had been battling depression for years, and was being “treated, counseled, and embraced fiercely by family and friends.”
Delilah is the mother of 13 children, including Zach, and one grandchild. Her children range in age from 7 to 36. Three are biological, and 10 were adopted.
Delilah’s granddaughter, Penny, is two.
Speaking with People recently about her son’s passing, Delilah said, “He was my wild child; 13 broken bones, umpteen trips to the hospital with appendicitis, tonsillitis, a fractured skull. He was wild but so so so sweet.”
2. His Adopted Brother Died in 2012 of Sickle-Cell Anemia
In 2012, Delilah’s son, Sammy, died of complications from sickle cell anemia. Samuel Young Dzolali Rene died just two years after he was adopted from a Ghanaian refugee camp in West Africa. He had been hospitalized for the two weeks leading up to his death. Sammy was 16.
After his passing, People reports Delilah as writing on Facebook, “My son Sammy passed from this world today into heaven, but he left behind a piece of his amazing soul in all that met him. As painful as this moment is, I am so so so so so thankful that God allowed me, my family and friends to experience the essence of his soul for the past two years… Everyone who met him was blessed by his big heart, his silly character voices, his wonderful sense of humor and his kindness towards all. He was a precious, precious young man and I praise the Lord that I was allowed to be bathed in Sammy’s love as his “MommaBear”…we have been forever changed by having him in our lives.”
According to an article in Puget Sound Blogs (and based on an article of Delilah’s that has since been removed), Sammy was found wandering the streets of a small village in West Ghana when he was a toddler. His family reportedly put him on the streets thinking he was possessed by demons, since he would often “scream” and “writhe” on the floor in pain. As it turns out, Sammy owed that pain to sickle cell, a genetic blood disorder that many people in West Africa suffer from.
Delilah met Sammy in 2010 through her work with Point Hope, a non-profit children’s welfare organization she founded. She had 11 children already when she adopted Sammy. On the Point Hope website, Delilah is reported to have written, “I knew in my heart that Sammy was special, talented, lonely and that I loved him, I just didn’t have a clue how special he really was at that time or how much more I would grow to love him.”
3. Delilah Said Zach Was Autistic in a January Facebook Post
In a January Facebook post, Delilah revealed that Zach was autistic, reports the New York Daily News.
He has been remembered by family and friends as someone who always included people, no matter who they were or where they came from. Delilah tells People, “[Zach] was a faithful friend to the outcast and the troubled. Dozens of his friends have written to me and told me he was like a counselor to them.” Delilah also revealed that after Zach’s passing, the mother of one of his friends told her that Zach “saved her daughter’s life when she was battling depression and anorexia, insisting the girl tell her folks and going with her to do that.”
Multiple outlets report that Delilah has been married four times– something that she is forthright about on air. As of 2012, Delilah has been married to a man named Paul Warner.
4. Delilah Informed Friends and Fans of Zach’s Passing on Social Media
Delilah shared the news of Zach’s tragic passing on Saturday on social media with her 1.5 million fans.
“My heart is broken beyond repair and I can not fathom how to go on,” she wrote.
Fans of the radio personality have reached out and offered their support. One fan wrote, “There are no words. My heart is breaking for you and your family. I will keep you in my prayers and pray that somehow God will find a way to bring you some peace.” Another posted, “Oh Delilah, I’m so sorry. My son took his life 6 years ago so I understand the grief you are in and the journey you must follow. Please feel free to reach out for support as you travel down this difficult road. Prayers and blessings to you and your family. My heart is broken.”
5. Delilah Is Taking Time Away from Radio Hosting
Delilah will be taking some time away from hosting and on social media to grieve and process the loss of her son. She has not yet stated when she plans to return.
The radio host writes, “In the mean-time we’ll be playing some of my favorite shows from the recent past. I’ll look forward to my return, as you all lift me up so very much!”
Delilah is best known for her nationally syndicated nightly radio song request program, which has an estimated 8 million listeners. The show, which is based in the Pacific Northwester, airs at 7pm and wraps up around midnight local time. It debuted on four stations in 1996, and moved to Premiere Radio Networks in 2004.