The father of a 12-year-old Aledo boy who died by suicide last month blames the coronavirus for suddenly turning his life upside down.
“This is a kid who loved life, was the life of the party,” Brad Hunstable said of his son Hayden.
Hunstable said his son seemed happy and showed no previous signs of depression, but was affected by being separated from his friends and his routine.
“I know this. My son would be alive if he was in school,” Hunstable said. “He didn’t like the isolation. He didn’t like being at home.”
Just three days before his 13th birthday, Hayden died by suicide in his bedroom.
Experts said depression among young people is always a serious issue, and even more so these days.
"We're actually seeing the numbers start to spike,” said Dr. Kia Carter, a psychiatrist at Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth.
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Carter said parents should watch for sudden changes in their children’s behavior.
"When you notice a change in your kid's appetite or their energy level is different, they're not sleeping as well -- whether it's lack of sleep or increased sleep -- those are key signs to look out for,” she said.
Hunstable said he believed sharing his personal tragedy would help focus attention on a topic that is usually taboo.
"It can happen to everybody. And with this social isolation for the virus, any little thing becomes even more amplified,” he said.
Days after his son died on April 17, Hunstable posted a video online that has been viewed millions of times.
"My son died from the coronavirus as I mentioned, but not in the way you think,” Hunstable said in the video.
Hunstable said he also is making a documentary that hasn’t yet been released.
"Now I know, I've been saying, 'When Hayden's eyes closed, my eyes opened.' I know what my calling is,” Hunstable said.
Click here for information about taking care of your mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you or someone you know ever needs help, it is available 24/7 on the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. You can also text the crisis text line by texting "TALK" to 741-741.
Several other resources are included below. For more information just click on their name.
North Texas Behavioral Health Authority
MHMR, My Health My Resources Tarrant County
Park Cities Counseling, Elizabeth Scrivner
Metrocare Behavioral Healthcare for Children & Adults
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
CDC Stress and Coping