STV and QC Teenagers Unite to Raise Awareness About Teen Suicide Issue


Dylan Doppelmayr

Adrian Alcaraz, Staff Writer

  After a series of suicides sent shockwaves through Queen Creek High School last year, senior Isabella Martinez was compelled to make a difference.

  Last year five students in the Queen Creek community committed suicide; four students from QCHS and one from CHS. Schools outside the community also reported multiple suicides. Teen suicide is on the rise and Martinez couldn’t just sit back and watch. With the help of her family and friends, she was able to plan and organize “The Sunset Walk.”

   “The atmosphere of my junior year was just depressing, I thought maybe if a young person like me did something then it would impact students and give them hope,” Martinez said.

  Approximately 30 people gathered at Freestone Park, on Nov. 9. to show their support for the cause. Together they did a charity walk, had a few speakers share personal testimonies, and released balloons to the sky to show that the fallen wouldn’t be forgotten. Being just a student in high school, Martinez couldn’t have pulled this off on her own. With lots of behind the scenes work needing to be done, Martinez approached Jeremiah Vigil about a year ago with a plan to help.

   “We needed a good approach, she kicked off a fundraiser and raised enough money over the year to hold this event today.” Said Vigil.

   After fundraising and planning for a year, the wait was well worth it. As the event went on, the unexpected happened. A man sitting with his dog on a bench nearby approached a couple at the event to asked what was going on. It turned out that he was a suicide survivor and was grateful to see what was happening.

   “I am blessed to have seen this, a group of kids trying to spread awareness. I’ve lost 10 friends to suicide in the past four years and it’s been hard. Seeing what is happening here is truly amazing.”

  Some of the participants at the event were there simply to show their support, while others were there because of the direct impact a suicide has had on their life at school or with their family. Paola Andrade is a junior at American Leadership Academy in Queen Creek, experienced suicides throughout her school.

   “Some seniors that had graduated committed suicide, which is sad because that’s when they start their lives.” Said Andrade

  Just before the 2017-18 school year began at Combs High School, senior drum major Tyler Hedstrom committed suicide. Current senior Brayden Baker did not know Hedstrom personally, but he did observe how much one suicide impacted a whole school.

“It was devastating dude. When I found out about the news I was like [expletive] this is real,” Baker said.

   Baker attended not for himself, but as a sign of solidarity for those who were impacted by Hedstrom’s death.  

  “I’m here for the people who knew him. The band kids and his friends. I’m here for them.” He said. 

  With hopes of doing more, Vigil and Martinez know that this walk is just the start of something much larger.

   “We want to scale this bigger next year, we hope to invite some bands, bring in counselors, and to have more resources on site so people could know what to do to help others” said Vigil.
 As the sun began to set, a group of people gathered with one goal in mind; to change the way we go about in our everyday life. Teenage suicide rate is on the rise and these tragic deaths leave many suffering in their wake. But so many have stood up; people at the event shared encouraging words of advice to those who are struggling but the one piece of advice was reiterated over and over was one of optimism for anyone who is going through a difficult time.

   “Never lose hope.”