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Tampa mother creates foundation in daughter's memory

New educational program, fundraiser in the works
Posted: 6:11 AM, Sep 27, 2018
Updated: 2018-09-27 10:42:45Z

A Tampa Bay area mom is fighting to help local teens suffering from mental illness, like her daughter did.

Volunteers and law enforcement officers searched parks in North Tampa for several days back when Hailey Acierno went missing back in March of 2017.

Tampa police: Missing teen found dead 2 miles from home; foul play not suspected

Mother of New Tampa teen to start foundation  to bring awareness to Mental Health issues

Hailey was eventually found to have taken her own life.

Her mom recently launched a foundation in her name called “ Hailey’s Voice of Hope .”

The foundation plans on launching a week-long education program in some schools here in the Tampa Bay Area, focusing on raising awareness and acceptance of mental illness.

"I say to myself all the time, suicide didn't kill Hailey, mental illness killed Hailey," Lisa Acierno tells ABC Action News. "I feel strongly that education is the key."

The educational program, the details of which are still being ironed out but could be officially announced soon, would take mental illness awareness directly to students in high school, whether they appear to be suffering from the disease or not.

The CDC says suicide is the second-leading cause of death among teens. 

The educational program would show the impacts of bullying, which Hailey was a victim of, and explain to current teenagers how many of their own friends are suffering.

"I feel like now, where I was her cheerleader, she's my cheerleader kind of," says Lisa Acierno. "You're making a difference even if it saves one life. I'll feel like, in her name, in her memory, we've done something good."

The foundation is also holding their first fundraiser next month, click HERE to learn more about the event.