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Family releases balloons to honor son, raise suicide awareness

Posted at 11:24 PM, Sep 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-14 00:24:46-04

WACO, Texas — September is suicide prevention and awareness month, and now the Waco community is rallying behind the family of a teenager who took his life earlier this year. His family hopes sharing his story could save someone else's life.

Friends and family of Christian Ross gathered at the Waco Suspension Bridge to release balloons in honor of Christian Ross, a McLennan County teenager who took his life earlier this month.

"Today, he's not gonna be forgotten about," Ross's aunt Jaime Pilant said. "Life's not just going to go on. He will be remembered."

According to his family, Ross was an avid musician who was especially fond of rapping. They say he always lit up a room.

"Christian never knew a stranger," said Ricki Estrada, Ross's mother. "He just was always real happy, real outgoing. And that's the way he always was."

But, Ross's life was also filled with trouble. As a young kid, he was separated from his mother. When he got older, his family said he revealed to them he had been abused.

Not long after, he tragically killed himself, leaving Estrada and the rest of the family in shambles.

"It not only affects him," Estrada said. "It affects everyone around him when something like this happens."

For Estrada and the rest of her family on the bridge, releasing the balloons was more than just a way to remember Ross.

"[I wanted] for him to fly high and know that he has no more pain that he has to go through, no more pain that he has to carry," Estrada said.

And as the balloons rose into the Waco afternoon sky, Estrada said she could feel Ross's presence there with her.

"I know he was at the event, so I know he was smiling down," she said. "He was probably rapping for us and singing for us."

Still, she says she feels as though she failed her son, saying she wishes she would have listened to him more.

"Let [your kids] know you're there for them to talk to," she said. "Take their talks seriously. Take their problems seriously, because you never know what somebody might do."

If you or someone you know is struggling, call the National Suicide Hotline at (800) 273-8255.