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Gay College Swimmer is Raising Money To Fight Suicide In Honor of His Childhood Friend

Josh Velasquez via Instagram @whoisjoshv

Josh Velasquez is doing well in life.

He is a former high school swimming champion, and he is currently attending the University of Arizona to pursue a degree in neuroscience. But, possibly the best thing that Jos Velasquez could be doing is raising money to fight suicide.

The reason that Velasquez is on a personal crusade against suicide is because he has come too close to it. Not only was he in a dressed and suicidal state just a year ago, but six years ago he lost his best friend to it.

“In 2011, my best friend, Aaron, became another suicide statistic. Like others, Aaron felt that no one understood him or his place in the world,” he told OutSports, “He thought it would be best if he was no longer around. It destroyed everyone that knew him.”

In honor of his friend, Josh Velasquez has been trying to raise money for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. One way that he’s doing that is by running in a half-marathon in Long Beach, Calif., on Oct. 8th.

Not only is Velasquez being a strong advocate for suicide prevention, but last year he came out as gay in a co-written OutSports post with fellow swimmer Axel Reed.

Now, Velasquez is working as an outspoken gay athlete whose Instagram account is covered in affirmative messages, pictures of happy moments with his boyfriend, and shots of regular life.

If you want to support Josh Velasquez in his fight against suicide, you can donate to his fundraising page for his spot in the half-marathon.

You can also read some of his words about the campaign down below:

“Last year, like tens of thousands of others, I was suffering with extreme depression and suicidal thoughts.  But I was a lucky one: I was pulled out of the dark hole I had dug for myself by close friends, family and assistance from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP).”

“Nearly 45,000 lives are lost to suicide annually. This number can be lessened when friends and family are educated on the signs affiliated with extreme depression and suicidal tendencies…”

“Depression doesn't need to be a terminal illness:  think of it as a beast that needs to be slain.”