Nearly two months after his school closed due to COVID, 12-year-old Hayden Hunstable of Aledo, TX — like millions of other Americans during the pandemic — started succumbing to depression.
“I had no idea he was struggling or depressed, he was such a happy kid and loved his friends and family,” Hayden’s father Brad Hunstable, 42, told Metro UK. “But COVID is a perfect storm for suicide and depression. I think everything just got on top of him, he felt overwhelmed and he made a tragic decision.”
In April 2020, four days before his 13th birthday, Hayden took his own life. His eight-year-old sister, Kinlee, found her brother in his bedroom. He had hung himself.
Brad Hunstable attempted to revive Hayden, but was unable to do so. Hunstable said if not for the COVID lockdown, he would still have his boy.
“Covid killed my son,” Hunstable told Metro UK. “I think Hayden would still be alive today if COVID had never happened.”
Hunstable told Inside Edition that Hayden was upset he couldn’t play football or hang out with his friends. With his birthday coming up, he wouldn’t be able to have a party. And Hayden really hated virtual schooling. According to his family, Hayden was a very social child who loved being around people.
Hunstable said he should have talked about suicide with his three children. He also blames himself for not reviving his son.
“I don’t like thinking about it and what I saw was indescribable and I tried to save him and I failed,” he told Inside Edition. “It weighs heavy on me, even a year later. It weighs heavy on me and I don’t want anybody to… I want people to learn from our mistakes and I’m very passionate about that.”
A Documentary to Save Lives
In an effort to encourage parents to have a conversation with their kids about suicide and self-harm, Hunstable made a documentary about Hayden called Almost Thirteen (posted below). The film includes a recording of Hunstable’s phone call to 9-1-1, in which he can be heard giving CPR to his boy.
Hunstable also founded a non-profit called Hayden’s Corner. One of the organization’s goals is to unite public and private partners in an effort to pass legislation to require the inclusion of resilience classes in the core curriculum for K-12 schools across the U.S.
The Hayden’s Corner website informs parents that suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death of 10 to 14-year-olds in America.
“Even if your kid has never said that they want to harm themselves you need to proactively have the conversation. They’re going to find out about it some way,” Hunstable told Inside Edition. “Do you want them to find out about it from TikTok or Hollywood or their friends? Or do you want to set the stage for how to think about self-harm?”
According to The New York Times, depression rates have tripled during the COVID pandemic. If you or someone you know are in a crisis, contact the suicide line at 800-273-8255.
WATCH: Almost Thirteen
“I don’t know that the suicidology community has ever had a film as beautifully made about this subject before” – Dr. Melinda Moore (Clinical Psychologist)