Tracy Student Hosts Suicide Prevention Walk to Raise Awareness About Mental Health Resources

TRACY -- Nathan Campbell is turning tragedy into action, one step at at time.

The junior, student-athlete at Merrill F. West High School in Tracy organized a Suicide Prevention Awareness Walk on campus Saturday.

For him, it's a cause that hits close to home.

"February 22, of last year, I unfortunately lost my uncle to suicide," Campbell said.

His uncles death shocked his family.

"We were confused. For a long time we were confused and we had no idea that he was going to do something like that," Campbell said.

He is hoping the event will highlight the different suicide prevention clubs and mental health resources offered on campus and in the community to spare another family the pain.

"My mentality is to help as many people as I can, even if that is one person," Campbell explained.

Merrill F. West High School principal, Zachary Boswell, said it's important to offer a variety of resources.

"Number one: not everyone is going through the same kind of an issue. And, number two: it's good to have a lot of adults on campus or even students on campus that are trained in helping you if you're having a hard time and are going through something difficult," Boswell explained.

The school has two psychologists on staff, and contracts out with Valley Community Counseling and the Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention Program to work with students.

"I want them to know that they're not alone with their issues and that they can express their feelings and talk about how they feel and not be afraid or feel like they're going to be judged," Campbell explained. "So that hopefully we do save someone's life today."

Students from Project Smile Club came to support too.

"There are people waiting to help you get through whatever you're going through. Just don't be afraid to reach out because we're here to help you," vice president of Project Smile Club, Jada Hallman said.

Though this walk was the first, Campbell says he hopes it won't be the last.

"Next year as a senior, I will do it again and then for years to come hopefully it will pass on to someone else in my leadership class and they'll take on the role doing this," Campbell said.

The event was free and open to the public but students did collect donations. All the proceeds will go to the Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention Program.

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