KALAMAZOO, Mich. — A local family is hoping to turn tragedy into an opportunity to teach others.
Friday night, 15-year-old Alex Sanchez took his own life, and his family says they never saw it coming.
Alex's family told FOX 17 he was full of life, loved to dance and was the class clown. They had no idea Alex was contemplating suicide and now they want to help others before it's too late.
"He told a friend that life wasn't for him," explained Alex's mother, Joanna Sanchez. "People expected more from him, and all he could give was less, and he wasn't about being here no more."
"The pressures of life were too much for him, and he kept it bottled up. That's where the anger came from."
The sophomore at Loy Norrix High School kept his emotions hidden from his family. Now his family is trying to make sure it doesn't happen to anyone else.
"A lot of times teenagers will talk to their friends, so a friend will know what's going on," said Monica Liggins-Abrams, Alex's cousin. "They should let an adult know, because there's help out there. There's resources and people they can talk to, but we don't know as parents, as adults, we can't help them through these things."
They're urging teens to speak up if they know their friends need help.
"I wish that he would've told somebody about how he felt and told people he was angry or whatever" said Alex's friend, Bryce Holmes. "I wish he would've just expressed himself and not kept it inside."
"He always kept everybody happy and he never showed any sad emotions or anything negative," said Bryce Holmes, one of Alex's friends.
"He would try to make me laugh when I was sad, and he was the class clown for his whole school," said Alana Vargas, Alex's younger sister. "He used to make his whole school laugh."
"It's hard," said Leshaun Bennett, Alex's cousin. "I don't know what to do right now except pray and think of the good times we had."
"I just try to understand and know that he's in a better place and he's in peace now, but I want everybody to know don't hold that inside," said Sanchez. "Let somebody know and go find help."
The family has set up a Go Fund Me page for Alex to cover funeral expenses. They're also planning a candlelight vigil for Alex on Tuesday night at 6:00 pm in Milham Park across from Loy Norrix High School.
Grief counselors will be at the school Monday to help grieving students.