An 18-year-old University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign freshman died by suicide in October while grappling with isolation brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, his family said.
Now, his mother is sharing her family's tragic story in hope of sparing others from similar heartbreak.
Trevor Till, who was from suburban Seneca, excelled in the classroom at Seneca High School and in activities including marching band and cross country.
"His potential was immense," Trevor's mother, Lisa Moore, said. "My boy could have been anything."
As a freshman living in a dorm at UIUC, the pandemic drastically changed life for the 18-year-old.
"He was a social person, so being alone was not him," Moore said.
Social isolation took a toll on Till, his mother said. On Oct. 21, the 18-year-old died by suicide.
"Students that are involved in lots of things like Trevor are suffering, because they don’t have those things," Moore said.
Childrens' emergency room visits related to mental health have increased significantly during the pandemic, highlighting concerns about psychological effects of lockdowns and social distancing, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"Teenagers are suffering," said Allison Johnsen, a psychotherapist at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital. "They don't really want more Zoom."
Johnsen suggests parents check in with their children and teens frequently, and if they notice any changes in behavior, seek counseling.
Moore, meanwhile, advises parents to "helicopter the heck out of your children."
"This world is a better place, because Trevor was in it for 18 and a half years, and he will not be forgotten," she said.
In a statement, UIUC said it has been offering individual and group counseling via Zoom and 24/7 emergency triage for students in crisis.
The full statement from UIUC is below:
"The wellbeing of our students is our number one priority, and we are always heartbroken when a student dies.
I can’t talk about a specific student, but college students struggle with many issues, and while we have people and resources in place to try to help and support them they don’t always share their struggles with others. Our resident advisors and other Housing staff interact with students daily,
Our resident advisors and other Housing staff interact with students daily, we have been offering individual and group counseling via Zoom, a daily meditation series, wellness workshops, online support tools, and, of course, 24/7 emergency triage for students in crisis."