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Hundreds gather in DeSoto to raise awareness after cheerleader's death

Hundreds gather in DeSoto to raise awareness after cheerleader's death
Hundreds gather in DeSoto to raise awareness after cheerleader's death 02:15

DESOTO, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) - May is National Mental Health Awareness Month and in DeSoto, hundreds are gathering to bring awareness to the loss of 19 year-old Arlana Miller, who died by suicide last week. 

Miller was the Captain of DeSoto High School's Varsity Cheer Team for the 20-21 school year.  

"Arlana had the biggest smile, biggest smile, she could light up a room," cheer friend Wrenden Bowers said. 

"She was just a really bubbly, a happy person, we didn't really see her sad often," cheer friend Janaiya McKenzie said. 

Miller's cheer friends said she's the last person you'd think would be struggling with her mental health, but she was. 

Last week, the freshman at Southern University in Baton Rouge expressed this on Instagram before taking her own life. 

"Mental health is very serious and it's something that is not talked about a lot which is very unfortunate because a lot of people go through a lot of things," McKenzie said.

At Les Zeiger Park, during a balloon release, pastors, non-profits and school officials took the opportunity to talk about these issues.

They encouraged students to reach out if they need to and recommended crisis hotlines, many of which offer 24/7 counseling services.

"If there is a time that you need something we have about 150 staff members that you can go to, including myself," DeSoto High School Principal Monica Smith said.  

"We're here for you," DeSoto ISD Interim Superintendent Dr. Larry Lewis said. 

"Whatever your needs are, the school district has you." 

Miller's loved ones say it's conversations like this that make a difference.  

"Everybody has a purpose and a plan and we want to see everybody here," Charlea Cooper said. "Trouble doesn't last always, but joy does come in the morning." 

This Saturday there will be a mental health awareness walk at Glendale Park in Dallas at 9 a.m.

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, help is available on the CDC and Suicide and Crisis Center of North Texas websites.

EMERGENCY COMPONENT - LOCAL

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