High school is about making memories, whether good or bad. It's about cramming for a test five minutes before. Playing sports. Going prom dress shopping. Hitting a Friday night movie. Sleeping over at a friends house. Going to Friday night football games. There's so much to worry about and pressure to handle in high school. Will I fit in? Will I get into the college of my dreams? Will I make the varsity baseball team? Will mom let me stay out past 11? However, one thing that high school student shouldn't have to think about is the purpose and value of one's life.

Last week, a boy from my school committed suicide. According to the NAMI, 1 in every 5 children ages 13-18 have, or will have, a mental illness. This can be due to the stress of grades, social pressure, or just general hardships.

Mental illness is a very real topic and needs to be openly addressed in society. Whether it's depression, anxiety, or eating disorders, ALL mental illnesses are important and relevant.

I think sometimes people don't want to admit that mental health issues are real and exist. Personally, I believe with all the pressure placed on high school students today, most kids experience some sort of anxiety daily.

Suicide is a tough topic, and discussing it can be confusing, scary, and sad. No one ever has answers as to why someone took their own life. All I can say is mental illness is a type sickness, just like cancer. The boy from my school is no longer suffering. The hard part is left for the people he left behind. Cancer, for example, is a type of sickness where people can physically see someone getting gradually worse. With mental illness, you can't necessarily tell if someone is even suffering.

Something as tragic as this makes you realize what's important in life. I think we all get caught up in getting good grades, going to parties, fitting in, making good impressions, and more. But what really matters is the people that surround you and the relationships you build throughout your life. The people that love and care for you. Family, friends, even acquaintances. Because death affects more people than you think.

This has been a hard week for myself, my classmates, and everyone in our community. To conclude, I would like to leave you with a quote a friend told me. "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle you know nothing about." I urge you to call your mom. Hug your best friend for no reason. Even smile at a classmate you don't necessarily talk to. Treasure those people you love in your life, because one day, they'll be gone.