Hayden Hunstable was like any 12-year-old boy. He loved football, filming videos with his friends, and blasting music with his dad in the car. But two months into the pandemic, Hayden tragically took his own life. He was days away from his 13th birthday.
"COVID killed my son, but not in the way you think. I do believe that," Hayden's father, Brad Hunstable, told Inside Edition. "We were seeing the increased anxiety from the pandemic and that was clear. He wanted to play football. He wanted to see his friends. He couldn’t have a birthday party. He hated online schooling. Some kids love it, but my son hated it."
Hayden's father found him after he took his own life. He tried to revive him, but it was too late.
"I don't like thinking about it and what I saw was indescribable and I tried to save him and I failed," Hunstable 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."
After witnessing the unthinkable, Brad has created a documentary about his son and the family's loss titled, "Almost Thirteen." He says he hopes it will inspire parents to start a conversation bout self-harm and suicide with their children.
"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," Brad told Inside Edition Digital. "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?
He also founded Hayden's Corner, an organization that offers resources on suicide prevention and had a goal to mandate resilience classes in schools, creating a legacy for Hayden so his son’s death won’t be in vain.