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

DESOTO, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – May is National Mental Health Awareness Month and hundreds of people gather in DeSoto to celebrate 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, the biggest smile. She could light up a room,” said friend Wrenden Bowers.

“She was just a really bubbly, happy person, we didn’t see her sad very often,” said cheering friend Janaiya McKenzie.

Miller’s cheering friends said she was the last person you’d think was struggling with her mental health, but she was.

Last week, the freshman at Southern University in Baton Rouge took to Instagram before committing suicide.

“Mental health is very serious and it’s not talked about much, which is a shame because a lot of people go through a lot of things,” McKenzie said.

At Les Zeiger Park, pastors, nonprofits, and school officials took the opportunity to discuss these issues during a balloon flight.

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

“If you need anything, we have about 150 employees you can go to, including myself,” said Monica Smith, principal of DeSoto High School.

“We’re here for you,” said DeSoto ISD Interim Superintendent Dr. Larry Lewis.

“Whatever your needs, the school district has you.”

Miller’s loved ones say it’s conversations like this that make all the difference.

“Everyone has a goal and a plan and we want to see everyone here,” said Charlea Cooper. “Problems don’t always last, but joy comes in the morning.”

This Saturday at 9:00 AM there will be a mental health awareness walk in Dallas’ Glendale Park

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