Students organize first suicide prevention walk

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RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)--In recognition of National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Month, a group of students from the John G. School at the Virginia Home for Boys and Girls (VHGB), is organizing the school’s first suicide prevention walk.

More than 100 people will attend the walk-a-thon, scheduled for noon on Wednesday, May 1st, including Miss American Junior Miss Davina Seoparsan and Virginia Supreme Court Justice William Mims.

The students decided to organize the event after the suicide of a fellow student last year.

“It was hard wondering if I did something wrong, wondering if my friends did something wrong,” says 16-year-old Cameron Hensley.

In preparation for the walk, the students have been planting flowers and grass, painting, making posters, and raising more than $1,800 dollars from local businesses for suicide research and prevention.

“It makes me feel like I’m going to help others by showing them there’s more to life than being bullied and having problems… you can get over it,” says 19-year-old student Michael Rhodes.

According to a recent report by the U.S Surgeon General, one in five children suffers from a mental disorder. Children with mental disorders, particularly depression, are at a higher risk for suicide.

VHBG clinical therapist Karen Rice says open communication and early intervention between adults and children can help prevent suicide.

“Untreated, these symptoms get worse.” Rice says. “Unnoticed, youth feel helpless and hopeless and they feel turning to suicide is their only out.”

The students at the John G. School, an alternative school at VHBG, says preparing for the walk has helped many of them find healing through helping others.