One family is turning their tragedy into hope for others.
After a California couple lost their 14-year-old son, who battled anxiety and depression, to suicide, they decided to help others who face similar struggles. The result is a nonprofit that aims to erase the stigma surrounding mental health.
Steve and Mannie Nimmo, along with their 18-year-old daughter Samantha, launched the Z-Cares Foundation, a nonprofit aimed at erasing the stigma attached to social anxiety disorders, in Zachary’s honor.
“He had such a sense of shame over his anxiety,” Mannie told PEOPLE. “He didn’t want other people to know.”
The high school freshman is remembered as a teen who loved sports, fishing, and video games. His parents shared that he worked hard to hide his symptoms from those around him.
“We thought we were doing all the right things,” shared Steve. “His old friends saw him withdrawing but had no idea what he was dealing with. For his newer friends, he wore a ‘mask’ to hide his pain.”
The family sought professional help, but Zachary continued to experience shame surrounding his diagnosis. He eventually took his own life in October 2018.
“Zachary felt like he was alone in this space. Kids are suffering in silence, and someone needs to get out there and be their advocate and help them through it,” said Steve. “And that’s what we’re trying to do: let them know that they’re not alone. They’ve got somebody to talk to.”
“We can’t let another family go through this,” he added. “That’s what keeps us going.”
Watch the Z-Cares Foundation’s “Finding Resources” video below, for a small sample of the good work they are doing.
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