LA PORTE, Texas (KTRK) -- This week, La Porte High School will formally recognize a student who would have walked the stage with her classmates, a reversal of an earlier decision by the district.
Charisma Garza died by suicide during her sophomore year, and her friends and family wanted her to be honored along with her graduating class.
"We believe this process acknowledges students who were part of the class while still protecting the emotional well-being of our students," district officials said in a statement.
The decision doesn't just impact this year's graduation, it will be part of the district's policy every year.
La Porte ISD officials had originally denied her friends' and family's request after consulting with crisis counselors who said they were concerned for the well-being of other students.
Garza's friends were pleased with the change.
"Just for the school to acknowledge that she's still with us and letting her be a part of this big day, that would have meant everything to her friends and family," one friend told ABC13. "It's a really good step in the right direction and feels really nice."
Garza's name will be included in the graduation program, and her parents will receive her diploma.
Garza's mother said her daughter was suffering from depression and anxiety. She went to counseling and took medication.
Now, her family and friends dedicate their time to mental health awareness, and they feel a big part of winning the battle is talking about it.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month.
If you or someone you love is struggling with thoughts of suicide, there is help available. You can call 1-800-273-8255 - The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline - anytime, day or night.