Richland father says COVID-19 isolation played a factor in son’s suicide
KENNEWICK, Wash. — The holidays will be different for the Robbins family. They’ll be missing a key family member, 16-year-old Christian Robbins.
“We were really hoping just for Christian to have more time, and we ran out of time,” Ted Robbins said.
It’s been six months since Christian died by suicide. His father Ted said, if it weren’t for the isolation and restrictions caused by COVID-19, he might still be here. For months, Christian had been battling Bipolar disorder.
“It was a stacking effect that he was bullied, he had mental health concerns, he tore his ACL during his freshman year which took away all of his sports. He said that COVID was taking away his network of friends, taking away his constant contact,” Mr. Robbins said.
Ted said as their family continues to cope with the loss, he’s turned to mental health advocacy.
“My hope as a father and my hope as a family is to try and help other kids and, really just bring awareness to mental health right now is an extremely difficult time,” he explained.
Christian’s story has made waves on social media and throughout Tri-Cities. It reached a complete stranger, Josie Mettling, who has organized a vigil on Saturday, November 21st.
“I want his life to be celebrated and honored,” she said.
Mettling, a freshman at Southridge High School, has also struggled with mental health. She hopes the vigil will open up the conversation about it.
“We’re just here to celebrate Christian’s life, and honor all the other lives that we’ve lost, especially during COVID; it’s taken a toll on a lot of people,” she said.
Ted added he hopes school districts will take action, especially now since older grades will remain at home through the year.
“My hope would be is to take all of the high risk kids and track the mental health. Track how the mental health is getting worse, or is it getting better and let’s discuss it, let’s discuss it during the board meetings,” Ted said.
Some districts like the Kennewick School District have online resources for students and parents. They have a Youtube playlist dedicated to social emotional wellness. In Pasco, district officials said they have multiple school psychologists who are monitoring the mental health of their students.
Ted encourages parents and their children to be open with one another, and to seek help if needed.
As the Robbins family continues to heal, they hope their story will help others and, that mental health can come to the forefront of conversations.
“You have love, you have the relationships and the memories that you have and that is as a family, we’re stronger together. I think our faith, even though we’re a really good faith based family, our faith is even stronger, and it’s all been because of Christian.”
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