LAS CRUCES, New Mexico -- Nearly 100 people turned out for a suicide prevention and awareness walk in Las Cruces on Saturday where friends, family members and other residents mourned the death of 15-year-old Mayfield High School freshman Ezekiel "Zeke" Zavala.
"We lost one of our best people," said Anahi Almanza, who spent time on the Mayfield High School cheer team with Zeke. "He was a huge part of our team and lit up all the rooms he walked into."
However, the event itself goes far beyond Zeke, serving as a means for adults to pass on an important message.
"If you need help, reach out to someone," said Debbie Mintz-Ortiz, who organized the group to attend to the walk. "I want the community to know and remember Zeke but to also realize that there is always another option."
Several residents taking part in the walk said that mental health issues have already proven themselves to be a silent killer in the community.
Ezekiel's mother, Amanda Olmos, also attended the walk. Dozens of his classmates were also there.
According to CDC data from 2018, New Mexico has the second highest suicide rate in the nation. That was the most recent year the data was available.
They said they will be forever changed by what happened but added that the experience has pushed them to pledge that they'll use it to promote communication and inclusivity.