‘Locked in this house’: Family speaks out after teen dies by suicide amid struggle to cope with pandemic

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(Photo Credit: GoFundMe)

BRUNSWICK, Maine (WJW) — The family of a 16-year-old boy is spreading the word about mental health in youth after their son died by suicide after struggling to cope with the pandemic.

TODAY reports Spencer Smith, a high school sophomore, passed away Friday.

Smith’s father, Jay, told TODAY his son had been having trouble adjusting to pandemic life. His family said Jay was upset because he couldn’t participate in school activities like football, but they didn’t realize how much he was being affected.

Over time, he quit working out, and his grades suffered.

“We knew he was upset because he was no longer able to participate in his school activities, football. We never guessed it was this bad,” Jay Smith told TODAY. “Looking back now we could see little things that we should have caught but we didn’t realize his mental health was deteriorating as bad.”

Spencer left a note for his family in which he described his struggles and said he felt like he was “locked in this house.”

“There’s help out there,” Jay Smith told TODAY.”This pandemic can’t last forever and if they’re feeling alone and depressed, they need to reach out for help. Things will get better. I ask parents to talk to their children.”

A GoFundMe account has been set up to help his family pay for expenses.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals. 1-800-273-8255.

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