Son kills himself over guilt after fearing he may have exposed father to Covid, says mother

Anthony Junior, 17, feared he had exposed his family to Covid at a school pep rally last August

Sravasti Dasgupta
Friday 21 January 2022 14:24
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<p>Anthony Reyes, 17, died last month</p>

Anthony Reyes, 17, died last month

A California woman said that her teenage son took his own life after he felt guilty for the death of his father who died of Covid-19.

Stephanie Reyes, 37, said that she and her whole family had contracted Covid in August last year. Her husband Anthony, 46, died in September due to complications arising from the disease.

“At the end of August, my family and I contracted Covid and within a matter of days, I lost my husband,” Ms Reyes said to Fox LA.

Ms Reyes said that her teenage son, Anthony Reyes Junior, 17, had begged to visit his father before his death. The teenager held himself responsible for his father’s death and illness as he had insisted earlier that the family come to his school for a pep rally, she said.

“He felt guilty. He felt like he was the one who got us sick. He felt like he was the reason why his dad was gone and we talked to him all the time, and told him ‘It wasn’t your fault,’” Ms Reyes said.

The teenager, who had struggled with depression throughout the pandemic, found it hard to process his father’s illness and subsequent death, she said.

Before Mr Reyes’ death the hospital allowed two family members to visit him at the hospital.

“My son wanted to go see his dad [and] against my better judgment, I let him go. It was the worst mistake I did,” Ms Reyes said.

On 28 December, Ms Reyes found that her son had ended his life when she found his bedroom light on at 4am.

“He was gone. I couldn’t believe my baby’s gone,” she said.

Ms Reyes has two other children, both daughters, aged 15 and 18, reported the LA Times.

“All my kids, they lost their dad. I can’t make that pain for them go away,” she said.

“But my son, he was more worried about us than he was worried about himself.”

In 2020, Anthony Jr had written about how he struggled in isolation with schools closed during the pandemic.

“Coronavirus was mainly a burden for me because it forced me to distance myself from my friends and my girlfriend,” he wrote in August 2020.

“That’s what caused my depression but then I luckily got better and thankful that I am a happy little boy today.”

Ms Reyes said that she had tried to get counselling for her son after her husband’s death but counsellors were booked for months.

The family has now found a counsellor and are getting therapy once a week to cope with their losses.

A GoFundMe page has been created to help the family with the costs of a funeral service scheduled for 22 January.

If you are experiencing feelings of distress and isolation, or are struggling to cope, The Samaritans offers support; you can speak to someone for free over the phone, in confidence, on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email jo@samaritans.org, or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch.

If you are based in the USA, and you or someone you know needs mental health assistance right now, call National Suicide Prevention Helpline on 1-800-273-TALK (8255). The Helpline is a free, confidential crisis hotline that is available to everyone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

If you are in another country, you can go to www.befrienders.org to find a helpline near you.

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