Scholarship to honor Christiansburg teen who took her own life

"You're not alone and you need to ask somebody for help."

CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. – Trinkets, photographs and hand prints remind Tracey Linkous of her daughter, Brianna Hurst. Mementos and memories are all Linkous has left of her 16-year-old daughter.

Brianna took her own life in April 2018.

"About the time that she started middle school, things started to change and she really began struggling with her mental health," Linkous said. "So, of course we did therapy, we did the psychiatrists, hospitalization, but unfortunately she still ended her life."

Linkous said her family and the entire community were devastated.

"We're never going to be OK without her," Linkous said. "I'll sit here on the couch a lot and just talk to her [about] everything. Everything and anything. I'll just tell her about something that's going on in the day or I'll tell her how much I miss her and that I wish she was here."

Linkous said she needs her daughter's death to have a positive purpose. She's starting a scholarship fund in Bri's honor called Living 4 Bri. It will be awarded to high school graduates pursuing nursing.

"The goal is for the first scholarship to be awarded to a Christiansburg High School student next year, which is the class of 2020," Linkous said. "It would have been Brianna's graduating class."

Linkous also wants this scholarship to keep her daughter's memory alive. Bri loved reading, music and cheerleading, but she loved her cats even more.

"Bri liked anything beautiful: the flowers, butterflies, sunsets, sunrises," Linkous said.

Linkous said depression is a lonely battle, but it doesn't have to be.

"People feel so isolated, so they're scared to ask for help," Linkous said. "But you're not alone and you need to ask somebody for help."

She wants everyone to keep making memories, keep fighting and keep living for Bri.

On Sunday, May 19, there will be a fundraiser for the scholarship fund. It runs from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Fatback Soul Shack on Roanoke Street in Christiansburg. There's going to be music, raffles and a silent art auction.

Tickets cost $5, which will be donated to the fund.

To learn more about suicide prevention, visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website or call the national hotline at: 1-800-273-8255.

About the Author: