Dylan Buckner was planning to meet a female friend on Friday night. By Thursday 3:05 pm he had died.
There was no concern about his actions that week.
But the 18-year-old high school football star is one of the hidden victims of the pandemic in the eyes of his family.
There is evidence in the United States that closures have cost students and their families significant mental health as authorities are working on ways to safely reopen schools.
“The 450,000 people in the United States must have died of COVID, and that’s terrible,” said Dylan’s father, Chris. “I’m lucky in that none of those people know, but I know one who committed suicide.
“There is no doubt that the isolation of the blockade, lack of face-to-face school education, lack of face-to-face interaction with friends, and lack of football contributed to his death.”
Dylan’s family has since learned that he had suffered from depression before the pandemic. But his death and early September attempted suicide are evidence of increased burden, they say.
“We talk about hospitals that can be overwhelmed by COVID patients. Well, mental health facilities are now overwhelmed by children and adults alike,” said Chris.
The suicide crisis of school students first sounded the alarm in the deserts of the western United States.
At the end of last year, officials in Las Vegas, the fifth largest school district in the United States, reported that an early warning system that monitors student mental health issued thousands of alerts. The number of suicides has increased dramatically.
It has helped accelerate plans to return students to schools around Las Vegas, and mental health victims across the country are now part of public health debates about reopening classrooms.
Cities, school districts and teachers’ unions are involved in a controversy over the safety of returning students and the growing urgency of problems.
Laura Grochocki, a lawyer who runs the campaign group Remember America Action, has filed a lawsuit against the Governor of Illinois for banning school sports while allowing professional teams to play.
“My parents called me for help. It’s not just a suicide problem, but a hospitalization for depression and an eating disorder.”
She says the student “feels lost, loses her senses, loses her identity, loses something of value to her, loses contact with her friends, and feels isolated.”
“We ignored it. We need to discuss the balance of things. Maybe we can keep our lives alive and our children do not commit suicide. Release the rest. “
Heavy snowfall at Downers Grove High School on the outskirts of Chicago adds deadly softness to the sound of students coming and going. But in reality, the school is already quiet and empty, with only half of the students returning to class.
In the bank office, a team of school counselors offers virtual sessions to students in need. Needs are increasing.
Vince Walsh-Rock, Deputy Principal’s Assistant to the Counseling and Academic Support Services Division, said: You just don’t get out of bed, go to school from bed, or attend classes. “
Since March, Dyanna Boone has been remotely attending classes at Downers Grove. The 17-year-old is still too worried about the virus and cannot return to direct lessons.
“It was pretty difficult for me, especially during this time, to stay far away. I didn’t interact with others like I used to,” she said.
She has helped other students. “People who are struggling sometimes really struggle and they don’t understand it, so they don’t feel like they’re getting help from the school,” she said.
Returning to school completely does not solve the problem for everyone. “If we can predict the future for the next five to ten years, we’ll have students who understand the history of trauma around here and need special help,” says Walsh-Rock. ..
Like Dylan Buckner, Trevor Till was a high-achiever. School sports and musical theater stars, extroverts. “He was great,” said his mother, Lisa.
In October, Trevor took his life. During the blockade, Lisa said, “I saw some of his light go out. It made him sad. It made him angry. He got lost.”
Trevor’s family did not see any apparent signs that he could kill him, but friendship and lack of school routines and extracurricular activities had an impact.
Of course, the reasons for suicide are complex and diverse, and it is difficult to clearly relate an increase in suicide statistics to school closures. However, many families have seen debilitating effects on their children.
Chris Buckner says there are lessons to be learned, whether or not the school can be fully reopened soon.
“Talking to children, talking to them is really important, and it’s really important for them to trust their parents,” he said. “But it’s also important for friends to talk to them.
“I think he loved us as much as we loved Dylan. I think we were good parents and had a very strong family relationship, but he did the same. Couldn’t open the door to us about his struggle. He could be his friend. “
But for Trevor’s mother, the lack of school was extremely important.
“Children need other children, they need to be involved,” Lisa said. “They need to be in the classroom with the teacher. They lack all of the very important interpersonal relationships.
“I think we’ll have a lot of PTSD in the future. As a nation, we’re not at all ready to deal with mental challenges. I think we’re going to fight with our own hands.”
Anyone who is experiencing mental distress or suicide can call the Samaritan at 116 123 or send an email to [email protected] in the United Kingdom. In the United States, call the Samaritan branch in your area or 1 (800) 273-TALK.
© Sky News 2021
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