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Five Hills royalty and CCHS DECA hold 5th annual Suicide Prevention Walk

Cove Leader-Press

The Five Hills Scholarship Pageant and the Copperas Cove High School DECA Chapter partnered together again for the fifth annual Suicide Prevention Walk at South Park last Friday. 
The walk was the project of 2021 Preteen Miss Five Hills Dorianna Gilbert, whose platform of service is anti-bullying. 
“It’s so important to me because I actually went through bullying myself, and it actually hurts, because it feels like you can’t tell anybody because they’ll pick on you or whatever, and so I just want to make this world a place where you can say what you want to say,” Gilbert said. “You don’t have to keep it inside and build it up because letting it build up will lead to either depression, suicidal thoughts or maybe even suicide, and we’ve lost too many to suicide. I want the record to get low, not high.” 
Attendees gathered at the South Park playground prior to the walk to select different color beaded necklaces that coordinated with how they have been affected by suicide- whether they lost a child, parent, etc. or are just there to support those affected. There were also two lighted Trees of Hope for people to place a paper butterfly on with the name of a loved one.
Led by members of the Five Hills Scholarship Pageant and CCHS DECA, the walkers then took a lap around the walking trail throughout South Park, carrying flashlights and electric tea lights, stopping at different signs with facts and statistics about teen suicide. 
Leah George spoke briefly before the walk. She was asked by a friend to attend and share her viewpoint. 
George owns a business called Living Legit, which branched from her jewelry business and is focused on teaching about mindfulness, consciousness, energy and having a positive mindset, which is why she was asked to speak, she said. 
“Suicide itself, there’s a stigma behind it, and then also I think it ties into mental health as well. People feeling like they have no outlet, they have no way out, they don’t have a support system,” George said. “I know a few people that I’ve lost myself to suicide. It’s something that’s really sad it’s a void that happens where the family is left behind to try to figure out ‘What happened and where did we go wrong,’ so I want people here today when they hear me speak to understand that they do matter. These lives that have been lost to suicide- they matter too. Everybody here has a very specific purpose and never think that suicide is the way out. It’s not. You are loved, you do matter, and there’s certain things that you can do to help you mentally instead of making that decision.”
Following the walk, people were invited to share their testimonies and how they have been affected by suicide. CCHS alumni Lexie Hollingsworth shared the story of when she attempted suicide and how she was unsuccessful and was able to get the help and treatment she needed. 
“I can gladly stand here and tell every single one of y’all that it’s not worth it. It’s so not worth it,” Lexie said. “Being able to see and stand here today and say that I’m living the highest point of my life right now while I was living the lowest point of my life back then, I can definitely come here and tell you guys that it’s going to get better. No doubt about that. There are things in life that sometimes you just can’t control, and that’s totally okay but when I tell you that it’s just temporary. I mean it. There is so much more to life than what you’re living right now.”
Her younger brother, Nicholas Hollingsworth, is the Vice President of DECA. Nicholas said that DECA wanted to provide a student aspect to the conversation at the walk because teen suicide is a major problem. 
More teenagers and young adults die from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza, and chronic lung disease combined, according to the CDC. In 2019, suicide was the second leading cause of death among people ages 10-24. 
“We want to more push out the advertisement to teens, and we want to encourage other groups to participate because at the end of the day, the more students we get here, the more outreach we can really get and more help we can get,” Nicholas said.  
Nicholas said his sister’s attempt to take her own life was an eye opener because neither he nor his family saw the warning signs or knew what to look for. 
This is a common problem today, with people not seeing or looking for warning signs, he added. Four out of five teenagers who attempt suicide had given clear warning signs, according to the Jason Foundation. 
“We want to really look for them, and we want to encourage people to actually reach out and make sure everyone’s okay,” Nicholas said. 
If you are having suicidal thoughts and need to speak with someone, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 for 24/7 help.

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