The coronavirus pandemic has caused many families to struggle in a variety of heartbreaking ways. Recent studies have also shown the staggering effects the outbreak has had on America’s mental health.
Some examples of this, and the devastating consequences, are hard to take in.
A Texas dad is now sharing the heart-wrenching story of how he lost his son to suicide in the midst of the pandemic.
Brad Hunstable recently bid farewell to his 12-year-old son Hayden, and thereafter decided to share his family tragedy in a powerful YouTube video.
The reason? He wants to drive attention towards mental illness among children, and how its been affected during the ongoing pandemic.
“My son died from the coronavirus … but not in the way you think …” Brad begins in the video. The grieving father then goes into the details of the events leading up to the death of his beloved boy.
Hayden passed away on April 17, just four days before he was to turn 13 years old.
It is incomprehensible that such a young person would decide to make the unthinkable move to take his own life. Yet dad Brad has his own theory of what triggered the suicide.
Earlier this year, Hayden broke a monitor which he had been gifted so that he could further enjoy playing video games. The boy was therefore keen to get a new one and did everything to earn a replacement.
He acted as good big brother to his little sister and was kind to everyone all the time, as well as doing chores around the house. As a result, his parents decided to gift him the new monitor he wanted so badly.
Unfortunately, he had an outburst of anger while playing and, in the heat of the moment, he threw his controller and broke the second monitor. His father believes that incident, coupled with the intensified emotions created by social isolation, resulted in Hayden dying by suicide.
From what the family could see, Hayden was not depressed nor did he have a history of mental health problems. On the surface, everything seemed normal – which made it all even more difficult to grasp.
He was a normal healthy and happy kid who was unprepared for social isolation.
“Social isolation is hard enough for adults, it’s even harder for our kids,” Brad said. “I believe my son would be alive today if he was in school.”
By sharing their terrible tragedy, the family hopes to bring attention to the emotional well-being of children during this crisis.
Brad has now established Hayden’s Corner, a foundation that will fund and provide K–12 schools, students, parents, and school systems with learning content focused on social and emotional development for youth.
It will also support other organizations that work with gaming, psychology and addiction among children and young adults. Brad explained – via Hayden’s Corner – that suicide is the second most common cause of death among children aged 10-14. It’s incredible!
Unfortunately, this also seems to be a growing problem. Children’s mental illness is something we must pay more attention to. This is perhaps no better evidenced by a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that says suicide rates for people 10 to 24 years old increased 56% from 2007 to 2017.
Hopefully, Hayden’s story can become a piece of the puzzle to better understand and counter mental illness among children in the future. I hope that his memory lives on forever, and that his tragic fate can lead to the change we need. Please share this story on Facebook to help!