On the evening of January 20th, Loy Norrix High School students suffered a major loss. Friday afternoon at the Loy Norrix vs. Kalamazoo Central basketball game students began receiving phone calls and texts saying that their beloved friend, Alejandro Sanchez, who went by Alex, had just committed suicide.
Alex was a fun-loving Loy Norrix student. He brought smiles and laughs to all, and his aim in life was to bring people joy. He was an amazing artist and was so full of energy. He loved dancing and rapping. Just by looking at his Facebook page, it’s clear that his family and friends were very important to him.
“My favorite memory of Alex is every day we would meet up and hug. That was our thing, we would just hug. We would always talk about ‘Dragon Ball Z’ because we both love that show. He was really cool,” said junior Diego Sandoval.
“I met Alex in seventh grade, my friend introduced me to him and we just became close, we kinda became this trio. We were best friends. My favorite memory with him was when we were in middle school. Alex was having a really hard day and didn’t feel like going to school so we took the day and went to the mall. I had fun and I don’t regret it, especially now,” said freshman Cain Sandoval.
Not only did he make an impact on his fellow school mates, he made an impact on his teachers as well.
Teacher Samantha Maxwell was Alex’s Algebra teacher. She described him as hilarious and very smart.
“He always got his work done and did it correctly. He kept trying to get the best grade he could. He was very disruptive at times but it always made me laugh. Whenever I would yell at the class, he would just yell out and just say stuff and I would always have to try and keep a straight face when he did that, which was hard,” said Maxwell.
Maxwell’s Algebra class took Alex’s sudden death really hard, with five to ten kids requesting to get grief counseling in the library, but they found a unique way to mourn the loss of their friend.
“Second hour on the Monday after was kinda rough for us. When one kid came back from grief counseling, he asked for a sharpie and wrote on a random hoodie that had been sitting in the classroom for a couple months ‘Long Live King Alex’.” Maxwell continued, “[He] put it right on Alex’s desk. Then they taped paper to the desk to have anyone write letters to Alex or his family because I told them I could deliver any notes they had to Alex’s family. I didn’t want to take the stuff down, so instead, moved the desk up to the front of the room and it can stay there for a couple days.”
Over one hundred people gathered at Milham Park to honor and remember Alex late Tuesday evening. People cried together, laughed together and shouted in the name of Alex. Everyone leaned on each other for support and many went up and shared favorite memories or favorite things about their friend. There were candles lit and set floating down the river and floating lanterns released. It was a beautiful memorial, one that most will always cherish.
Alex’s parents hope to turn this tragedy into something that will help others. They want this to be a learning experience for students. There is help out there and nobody is is alone. The recommendation is that teens should start speaking up and seeking help if they hear or suspect that someone is contemplating suicide.
“I feel like people that are going through such a hard time, they should talk to people more. Just because you’re going through a hard time doesn’t mean that you’re not loved, just try to reach out to people because you’re not alone,” said Cain Sandoval.