HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. (CBS4)– The day after law enforcement revealed the tragic news that two teens were dead in a murder-suicide, classmates gathered to remember the victim, Mya Pena. The 17-year-old was remembered in a candlelight vigil on Thursday evening.
Heartbreak and shock weigh heavy on Jaylen Bridges.
“I’m confused, I’m sad, I’m hurt,” he said. “I just don’t believe it.”
Jaylen knew Samuel Hoffman since the seventh grade. He just can’t comprehend why the 18-year-old so painfully ended what appeared like a great relationship with 17-year-old Mya Pena.
“All I’ve seen is them happy,” Bridges told CBS4’s Kelly Werthmann. “It was like a perfect relationship.”
Yet what seemed so perfect took a dark turn on Tuesday. Samuel ended Mya’s life after picking her up from school, before turning a gun on himself.
“I just wish I could’ve done something to stop this,” Bridges said.
Bridges said he never saw signs of aggression or trouble between Sam and Mya. He knows, however, young love isn’t always what it seems – especially on social media – and teenagers often struggle with break-ups and heartache.
“A lot of kids don’t know how to handle or cope with their thoughts,” he said. “It gets the best of them sometimes.”
Millions of teens around the country admit they’ve been physically harmed by someone they’re dating.
It is Bridges’ hope more teens will seek out the resources available so no other relationships come to a tragic end.
“More people need to look into mental health on kids and try to help them cope with what they’re going through,” he said. “Just talk out things. Don’t keep it inside. If you keep it inside, it hurts you more.”
Among the resources available in Colorado is the Ashley Doolittle Foundation, started by a mother who lost her daughter to teen domestic violence. The foundation raises awareness on the issue while also helping to educate the community about the signs of abusive relationships.