Dylan Buckner’s room resembles that of a typical adolescent, with sports trophies and posters of football stars adorning the walls.
Dylan’s father, Chris Buckner, points to cheetah images and toys, saying Dylan liked the animals because of their speed. He points to a big fish model, a life-size version of the first one he caught with Dylan.
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Since Dylan’s death three months ago, almost everything in the room has been left untouched in an effort by his parents to preserve his memory.
The 18-year-old committed suicide on Jan. 7 as a result of depression compounded by the state’s pandemic lockout steps. Dylan jumped to his death from a hotel not far from his house.
Dylan’s mental health was exacerbated and deteriorated to the point of no return, according to his father, who told The Epoch Times that there is “no question in his mind” that the school closures and the state’s extended stay-at-home order aggravated and worsened Dylan’s mental health to the point of no return.
Chris said his wife, Karen, now sleeps on Dylan’s bed on occasion, most likely as a way to cope with the loss of their son. He says he’s sharing his son’s story in the hopes of saving a potential life and raising awareness among parents about their children’s mental health.
COVID-19-related lockdowns have been linked to an increase in mental health problems, especially among youth who have been deprived of in-person interactions, the freedom to leave the house, and have been forced to attend online Zoom sessions for hours on end to continue their education.
Medical and psychiatric experts are growing deeply concerned about the impact of the pandemic on future generations.
Children as young as eight years old have been identified deliberately running into traffic, overdosing on pills, and self-harming as a result of the pandemic, according to doctors. In August of last year, a health-care executive told The Epoch Times that the mental health issue is “now an epidemiology.”
Chris Buckner spoke for several hours on how his son shows no outward signs of depression and how lockout steps and school closures should be reconsidered when it comes to teen wellbeing.
Chris took the family dog, Lilo, on a tour of his house, from Dylan’s room to his basement workout room. It was clear that Lilo provided him with a great deal of warmth.
Chris kept his feelings hidden until he was asked about the Dylan memories that stood out to him the most.
Chris broke down in tears when he said, “I just miss everything—getting to hold him and talk to him was the best part of my life.”
“Watching him graduate from high school, go on to college, marry, and have grandchildren—all it’s gone, and it’s not coming back.”
The family is also concerned about Dylan’s younger brother, Ethan, and his current difficulties. Dylan, according to Chris, was a “great big brother” to his younger sister.
Dylan’s friends warned his parents about a potential danger on the afternoon of January 7. Karen used location services on her phone to monitor her son’s location, which revealed that he was staying at a nearby hotel. Chris rushed to the spot, but when he saw the police cars, he realized he was too late.
Although there is no evidence connecting teen suicides to the pandemic or school closures, there has been a strong increase in mental health issues, according to experts. According to the New York Times, an early warning system in Nevada schools had tracked 3,100 mental health incidents since March 2020, and 18 students had committed suicide by December, leading schools in the region to call for reopening.
According to an August 14 Morbidity and Mortality study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 41 percent of 5,412 Americans surveyed at the end of June last year reported at least one adverse mental or behavioral health disorder (CDC).