‘Every single person in this room is hurting’: Remembering Southeast High teen who died by suicide

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WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Breaking the silence and remembering their friend.

That is what hundreds of people did Wednesday night in College Hill.

The teen took their own life last week while at school.

“I’m sorry you thought it was your time to go and you felt so alone,” said one friend, speaking at the church podium. 

Emotions ran high at the vigil.

“Every person in this room, every single person in this room is hurting,” said Jackie Carter, pastor of Table of Hope Metropolitan Community Church. 

One by one, friends took the podium to remind everyone of the happy moments with their late friend. 

“I’m going to miss that so much because we would have little inside jokes here and there, and no one would get it, but we would,” said Gabby Gestrieg, a friend of the student. 

The student died by suicide Friday. 

“A tragic situation like this reminds us that every single life matters,” said Jill Sander-Chali, a pastor at College Hill United Methodist Church. “And, that we need to wake up. It is ok to grow and say you know I think I believe in something different than what I used to about what it means to be gay, lesbian or be a transgender. And, it’s ok to let our experiences of life, tragic situations like this help us to grow.”

For those who didn’t know the teen, many say there are countless qualities they are going to miss. 

“Would always find a way to laugh and make everyone else laugh,” said Jace Candy. 

“So compassionate, it’s going to be something hard to live without,” said Alec Strouse.

After honoring their friend, everyone lit candles.

With each flame, a reminder that a life lost does not mean a life forgotten. 

“You were a star in the darkness and I wish you were here.”

Students at the vigil say the tragic situation serves as a reminder to ask for help if you are considering suicide. 

There were a lot of pleas for help and support for LGBTQ students, and those with mental health issues, reminding anyone in need to reach out and ask for support, repeating the refrain, you are not alone. 

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