HERRIMAN, Utah (News4Utah) -- The Herriman community is dealing with a crisis. Seven students at Herriman High School have committed suicide since last summer.
Less than one week ago, 17-year-old Nicholas Swint took his life.
"Since the suicides, it's felt a lot different," said Ryan Cherry, a Junior and Herriman High School. "I feel we've grown together as a mustang family, and we've started to look out for each other."
Ryan and Nicholas were friends. They played basketball together often. Ryan knew his friend was sad at times, but he didn't realize the extent of his friend's depression.
Ryan Cherry knows what it's like to feel down. He says getting bullied at school made him depressed.
"It put me in a state of depression," said Cherry. "I really struggled. My grades dropped... I felt alone. I felt like no one cared."
To help lift his peers, Ryan started the Golden Gate Club, a group to help students make friends and feel accepted."
"I couldn't be more proud of Ryan," said Mike Cherry, Ryan's father. "He has taken a difficult and painful situation and turned into a joyous situation in his life."
Suicide is the number one cause of death in Utah among teens.
Teddy Hodges, organizer and founder of Herriman Community Awareness Group, says suicide touches him deeply.
He says awareness is key.
"We need to have a real true discussion about it," said Hodges. "It affects everybody. Everybody has some sort of depression or some sort of loneliness feeling at any point in their time."
Hodges says in order to prevent suicides, people need someone to talk to. They need to know someone truly cares before they can open up.
Hodges has been very involved in Herriman, and sees how the seven suicides has shaken his community.
"There's a need for a different spin and a different atmosphere in that school," said Hodges. "I know the administration loves the students. They're doing what they need to do and they're doing their best at it, but something needs to change. It needs to be pretty abrupt and shocking to create that change."
Hodges says people prone to suicide also need to have hope and feel loved.
Mike Cherry agrees.
"Kids want to feel loved," said Cherry. "These kids are reaching out and wanting someone to love them and to take care of them."
The public is welcome to attend a citywide gathering, which is being organized by Teddy Hodges, to frankly discuss the suicide epidemic in Herriman:
Location: Herriman City Hall
Address: 5355 West Herriman Main Street, Herriman, Utah 84096
Date: May 17
Time: 6:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
This will be a night to learn and have a true deep discussion about what we can do in our own home, life, school, community and church to help parents and our children. It takes a village to and we are here to help.
This event if rated will be TV-MA. We will be hearing from amazing speaker that will talk frankly and honest. You should plan on leaving young children at home and possibly teens. Parents this will get real and this topic can be triggering or traumatizing to those that have been affected closely. But it can also be healing and a great conversation starter.
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