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Former journalist reflects on importance of mental health after Wisconsin news anchor dies

Journalist Neena Pacholke died suddenly on Saturday. According to her family, she died by suicide.
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Posted at 2:45 PM, Aug 30, 2022

As the Wisconsin journalistic community grieves the sudden death of Wausau news anchor Neena Pacholke, it reveals the importance of caring for mental health.

ABC affiliate WAOW announced that Pacholke died suddenly on Saturday. According to her family, the journalist died by suicide.

"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," according to WAOW.

Originally from Tampa Bay, Pacholke quickly found a home in Wausau, where viewers knew her as a glowing personality on air.

"You never know what's going on behind somebody's persona. Whether you're in news or not, but especially in news, because we're taught to put on that brave face," said former news anchor Deb Sherwood.

Deb Sherwood co-anchored and worked in various newsrooms across the country with her husband, Bob Sherwood.

deb and bob sherwood
Deb and Bob Sherwood

"I had an amazing marriage. I was married for over 31 years to the same man and we worked together in this very public media. We co-anchored together for many years and ran news departments together. Unfortunately, he had some medical issues that came up that were not going to get better and he eventually decided to take his own life," said Sherwood.

Bob Sherwood passed away 11 years ago. He was an award-winning reporter at TMJ4 in the 70s.

"In my particular case and had absolutely no clue that's where his mind was," she said. "So it's sort of like, what did I miss?"

Deb Sherwood has found healing and freedom in sharing her husband's story. She's now using her voice to work with Mental Health America in hopes of spreading awareness.

Bob Sherwood

"Be willing to admit you don't know it all," she said. "Be willing to admit that sometimes we need help. If you are going through a particularly rough spot, why not get the assistance of someone who is particularly trained to help."

If you or a loved one is struggling with thoughts of suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 988. The free and confidential line is available 24/7.

A GoFundMe was created to help Pacholke's family as they make funeral preparations.

Jessica Madhukar at TMJ4 first reported this story.