United by tragedy, mothers aim for an end to student suicides

- Students at Queen Creek High School are dealing with a very tough topic: suicide.

Since May 2017, there have been five student deaths, with the most recent one happening this week. On Friday morning, members of a grassroots organization gathered outside the school to show support.

The group had one mission: letting students at the school know they are being heard.

"My son Rudy went here to Queen Creek High," said Deanna Vencomo. "I lost him in August to suicide. It's very sad, and us mothers have to relive that every time we lose a child. It's devastating."

Vencomo wants teen suicides to stop, and so does Sheila Hedstrom-Pelger, whose son, 17-year-old Tyler, also committed suicide.

"He was talented," said Hedstrom-Pelger. "He was bright, fun, popular. He wasn't bullied or anything like that. He just had a hard time."

14-year-old Kara Glover took her own life last July, before she began her freshman year at Queen Creek High.

"I just want them to know that it's OK to ask for help," said Melissa Glover-Rogers. 

United by tragedy, these mothers stood with a purpose, alongside more than 100 others.

"Just in the East Valley area, we have now had 22 suicides just since the beginning of the school year, which was July," said Christine Nguyen with Project Connect Four. "Knowing that we are losing that many young people is very, very alarming."

Nguyen said since 2009, there's been an 81% increase in teen suicides. Her goal is to let parents and students know they are not alone.

"That's what the biggest message is here for these students and the staff that we care about, and that when there's a loss, it affects not just them but all of us," said Nguyen. 

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