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Teen's death underlines need for mental health care during pandemic

Posted at 5:40 PM, Aug 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-27 17:40:51-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The death of a Metro-Detroit teenager just days after Jonathan Huizar left Pine Rest, a mental health facility in Grand Rapids causing the boy’s mother to question how something like this could happen to her son.

“I said I told you yesterday he said I’m not ready to come home. That he was going to hurt himself. She said we do not feel like he is a danger to himself or others.” Jonathan’s mother told our sister station, WXYZ. “And I said if I don’t come pick him up? And she said that’s child abandonment, and we will notify the authorities,”

Jonathan died by suicide after repeatedly expressing to staff at Pine Rest the worst. Executive Director Christy Buck with the Mental Health Foundation says this is a wake-up call with teenage mental health becoming more and more prevalent during the pandemic.

“Right now, many kids could be struggling right now with their mental health.” Buck said.

Many kids struggling because of the pandemic for numerous reasons.

“Recent losses, hopelessness, helplessness, guilt, all of these things that could be happening right now.” Buck Explains the amount of changes piled on in 2020 can be tough on anyone, most especially developing minds.

“Losses of a sport that they once participated in. Maybe that is their key link to their school, and now it’s been postponed or canceled. There’s a host of things that can bring about a change in someone’s behavior,” Buck says.

Buck suggests being actively involved with your kids. If you find out your child is thinking about taking their life, get professional help immediately and start removing certain things from the home.

“You can say that you are so important to me. I want to help you right now,” Buck says if a teen is hospitalized, being discharged doesn’t mean they’re ‘cured.’.

“When someone is discharged from the hospital, they are at risk. That’s a fact,” Buck explains mental health issues are complicated scenarios that require complex solutions.

“It goes along with that they are feeling better, but they did have a plan and they didn’t talk to anyone about this.” Buck warns. “Ultimately, there is death that comes with this illness, and it is preventable,”

If you or someone you know is struggling, tell someone immediately. Your primary care provider can help, and there are people able to support you right now at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255.