LA PORTE, TX - It's been nearly two and a half years since 15-year-old Charisma Garza took her own life. This Friday, she would've graduated from La Porte High School.
Her friends want to honor her, but tell FOX 26 that the school has declined to pay tribute.
Alexis Holley, Melody Fuentes and Rebecca Sever said they've been trying to convince La Porte High School officials to dedicate a chair or a moment of silence at graduation to honor their friend, but said they were repeatedly told no.
"He was very big on saying it was going to be a trigger to other students and he was trying to be respectful about it, but at the same time he wouldn’t really let me respond with well it could be triggering to us because we’re not being heard," Holley said.
"You can have so many people in your corner, but sometimes you just feel alone. I feel like if we get them to memorialize her, even just a shout, it would mean that people are actually realizing this is a serious subject, that we need to take action on," Holley continued.
Charisma’s mother, Debbie Garza, said her daughter was an artist who wanted to travel the world.
"You live with this not knowing forever because I will never know exactly what was going on in her mind. I know that my daughter was sick. This is not going away. Our teenagers are still struggling with mental health," Garza said.
"We’re not doing this to take away from other student’s graduation. I want them to know that. I just don’t want what happened to my family, to happen to anybody else. And I just want this to be an opportunity for people to wake up and see that mental illness does exist and to be there for each other," Garza continued.
La Porte ISD responded with a statement.
"As parents ourselves, we feel deep sadness for any parent who has lost a child. We also concern ourselves with the well-being of our students who are being honored for completing high school. Heeding the educated advice of crisis counselors, we will move forward to recognize our graduating class of 2021 without any potential trigger for anyone who has experienced such a horrible loss or has considered it themselves. The health and safety of our students (and staff) are always of paramount importance."
Charisma's friends have also formed a petition, which has now garnered nearly 3,000 signatures online.
Petition link: https://www.change.org/p/la-porte-high-school-stitching-together-the-class-of-2021-mental-heath-awareness-month-help-charisma-graduate?utm_content=cl_sharecopy_28982972_en-US%3A3&recruiter=1205895554&recruited_by_id=f998ff50-b9a8-11eb-b0c3-f91ff5bb3f83&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink&utm_campaign=psf_combo_share_initial&utm_term=psf_combo_share_message