North Texas mother dealing with grief of losing daughter by looking to help others

Janice Miller says she never knew or saw any signs that her daughter was suffering in silence.

Arlana Miller always appeared to be happy around her friends and  family, but there was a lot of pain she kept inside.

"This is her jacket we had made for her when she made cheer at Southern," Janice said.

Miller remembers her daughter always smiling.

"The cheerleaders would tell you she was the one who would make them laugh, the silly person, the goofy person," she said.

Arlana knew how to lift people up.

"She always would just come into the room and would just smile and would always ask how everyone was doing," Miller remembers.

A talented athlete, Arlana earned a spot on the cheer team at Southern University, a historically Black college in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

The DeSoto High School graduate was just as dedicated to her school work.

"Arlana was on a full ride in Family and Consumer Sciences at Southern University. She wanted to be a psychiatrist," said Miller.

In her freshman year, Arlana tore her ACL and needed surgery. Balancing a busy schedule also got tough.

No one knew how much she was struggling.

"It's like she was hiding it putting on this mask every day. Smiling and happy for everybody else, but she was hurting in silence," said Miller.

On May 4, Arlana decided she had enough.

She shared her pain in a social media post, left a personal letter in her car for her mother, and then took her own life.

"I was just like, not my baby. That's my baby, it can't be my baby. Not Arlana," Miller said through the tears.

Arlana wrote: "I have been surrounded by people who may have honestly thought that I was okay, but I haven't been okay for a while."

She urged people to vocalize their feelings.

"I'm leaning that a person who we think has it all, if their health isn't there, their mental health isn't right, nothing else matters to them," said Miller.

Knowing she can't change what happened, Janice is determined to make a difference.

"I feel like we should be able to listen to our young adults and adults and not make them feel like they're weak, or that they're crazy because they're going through depression or anxiety. Just listen to them and get them help. When I say help, I mean professional help with a licensed counselor or psychiatrist," Miller said.

Arlana would have turned 20 this month.

Her mother hopes sharing Arlana's story will help other.

"I dont want a parent to go through something like that because the pain never goes away."

Arlana's legacy will live on through a scholarship fund.

It benefits two cheerleaders each school year at Southern University.

You can learn more about the scholarship here.

If you or someone you know is struggling and is in need of help you can call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 9-8-8 or visit the Suicide and Crisis Center of North Texas.