The father of a 12-year-old boy who hanged himself last April after becoming depressed is attributing his son’s death to the loneliness he suffered during the pandemic.
Brad Hunstable of Aledo, Texas, whose son Hayden was found dead by his 8-year-old sister just three days before his 13th birthday, reportedly felt “sad and lonely” because of the lockdown, according to the New York Post and the U.K.’s Metro.
“COVID killed my son. I think Hayden would still be alive today if COVID had never happened,” Hunstable told Metro. “I had no idea he was struggling or depressed — he was such a happy kid and loved his friends and family.”
Describing the situation his son faced as “a perfect storm for suicide and depression,” Hunstable believes “everything just got on top of him, he felt overwhelmed and he made a tragic decision.”
Recalling the tragic day when his young daughter ran downstairs telling him her brother had killed himself, Hunstable said, “On April 17 our water went out at the house and my dad came over, Hayden helped us fix it. It was a beautiful sunny day and I gave him a hug and a kiss on the head.”
“Then when my dad left there was just me, Kinlee and Hayden at home,” Hunstable continued. “There was only a 30-minute window, Hayden had gone upstairs. Then my daughter ran downstairs and said Hayden has hung himself. I ran up there, pulled him down and tried to save him. I performed CPR but I couldn’t save him. He was gone. I saw something horrific that day and I don’t wish it upon anybody. I still get nightmares about it.”
Hunstable said virtual learning and social isolation hit his son particularly hard. “He loved football, and he loved being around people. He was very social. He was a little guy, but he had the heart of a lion. He was beloved by his friends and family.”
Hayden had also accidentally broken two computer monitors he was using for school and to play games with his friends, which his father speculated might have made him even more upset. “I don’t know if he was scared about getting into trouble or anxious about not being able to speak to his friends and ruining his birthday,” he said. “He either did it in impulsive anger or he got himself in a situation he couldn’t get out of.”
Since his son’s death, Hunstable has started Hayden’s Corner, an organization that aims to help parents talk with their kids about their mental health.
Suicidal ideation has skyrocketed among young people during the pandemic and its fallout, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As The Daily Wire reported in July:
More than 25% of young Americans aged 18-24 have seriously considered killing themselves during the last month, according to the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report released on Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has been associated with mental health challenges related to the morbidity and mortality caused by the disease and to mitigation activities, including the impact of physical distancing and stay-at-home orders,” the report began. “Symptoms of anxiety disorder and depressive disorder increased considerably in the United States during April–June of 2020, compared with the same period in 2019.”