Parents rally to support Queen Creek HS students after another death

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(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

Nearly two dozen people gathered outside Queen Creek High School Wednesday morning in an effort to show students that their lives matter.

The small rally, mostly parents from all over the Valley, was in response to the recent deaths of three students. Parents and students tell Arizona's Family a fourth student who had recently graduated died last September.

The parents lined up outside the school were armed with smiles and signs reading, “You matter” and “You are important,” “We care,” “Reach out, we care” and “No one can take your place.”

Christina Nguyen came up with the idea Monday after learning of the most recent death. The school’s administration sent a message to parents, guardians and staff saying that they learned of the death Sunday morning. No other information was included.

“I think, just as a human being, any time there’s loss, we want to show love and support to those people, and here, especially, in this community, they’ve had some loss,” she explained. “It doesn’t matter how the loss occurs. We just want to show the kids in the community here in Queen Creek that there’s people out here that love them and care about them and support them.”

Our Cameron Riddle spoke with Nguyen, who was wearing a T-shirt bearing the hashtag #youmatter, as students arrived to start their days. Many drivers honked in support as they passed the group or pulled into the school parking lot.

Nguyen said the goal was not only to help the students heal in the wake of tragedy but also to remind them that help is available.

"We have kids who are in distress," she said. "Their distress can come from so many different things."

Two of the deaths – one last May and one earlier this year – were suicides.

Rudy Bencomo, 17, killed himself in August, possibly in connection to an online suicide game called the Blue Whale Challenge.

[RELATED: Possible clues in Queen Creek teen's suicide point to deadly online challenge]

"When I read that, it was all Rudy. Everything it said to look out for in your child was Rudy," Rudy’s mom, Deanna, told our Heather Moore. "From social media to the behavior changing to isolation. All that.”

The dark online game consists of 50 days or demands that start simple and gradually lead to the last challenge, suicide. It's said to have started in Russia and is reportedly linked to more than 100 deaths around the world.

[RELATED: Suicide game blamed for teen deaths; schools, police sending alerts]

[RELATED: Sick online suicide game targeting teens]

Although there's not a lot of evidence, the Bencomos believe it's a possibility Rudy was involved in the Blue Whale Challenge.

The latest numbers from the Arizona Department of Health Services show teen suicides have skyrocketed a shocking 81 percent since 2009 in our state. 

According to the AZDHS, there are several factors that can help identify a child at risk:

  • Behavioral health issues
  • Mood disorders
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Substance abuse
  • Impulsive/aggressive tendencies
  • History of trauma or abuse
  • Major physical illness
  • Family history of suicide and previous suicide attempts
  • Easy access to lethal means
  • Lack of social support and a sense of isolation
  • Stigma associated with asking for help
  • Lack of health care, especially mental health and substance abuse treatment.  

Since Rudy's death, a crisis hotline has been added to the student IDs at Queen Creek High School.

While no information about the most recent death has been released, many parents are on edge and looking to do whatever they can to help the students and protect them as much as possible.

"We're trying to put education and stuff out there for parents who need to help these kids get through being a teenager being a kid because it's so much from when we were kids," Nguyen said

There is a free town hall at Desert Vista High School (16440 S. 32nd St., Phoenix) on Monday, Nov. 6, at  6: 30 p.m.

Our April Warnecke is hosting another event on Monday, Nov. 13 at 6:30 p.m. at Christ Luthern School (3901 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix).


Heather Moore contributed to this story.

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