LAKEWOOD, Ohio — The parents of St. Edward student Brycen Gray are still trying to move on from the death of their son last year. Gray took his own life shortly after coming down with COVID-19.
"I’ve often said we tend to sympathize with people, but it doesn’t scratch the surface. Completely blindsided," his mom, Tara, told us in an interview last year after Brycen's death.
His passing was not only devastating, but seemingly out of character for their son. Brycen was known as a happy teen and very involved in school with many friends. That's why his parents believe COVID-19 changed Brycen neurologically.
That's why the "Brycen Gray and Ben Price COVID-19 Neurological Impact Act" bill was introduced in Congress. It seeks to better understand how COVID-19 can affect the brain. The bill was originally introduced by Representative Anthony Gonzalez (R), but recently got the support of three senators, including Sherrod Brown. His office shared the following with 3News:
“As a result of the pandemic, people have experienced isolation, fear, disruption to routines, and in too many cases, the death of a caregiver or a loved one – as was the case for the family of Brycen Gray, who tragically lost his life to suicide a year ago...This legislation is an important first step toward understanding, treating, and ultimately preventing those long-term side effects that harm our physical health and our mental health.”
The bill points at new research from The Lancet, which looked at how many people had negative neurological side effects from the virus. It followed more than 230,000 virus survivors, and found .4 percent of them developed a mental disorder. It compared them for six months to those who had other illnesses like the flu.
It's something Northeast Ohio doctors are paying attention to.
"They had seen higher rates of first incidents of mood disorder diagnosis. So mood disorders are things like depression and bipolar disorder," says Cleveland Clinic psychologist Dawn Potter, explaining what the study looked at.
The bill is also named after Ben Price, an Illinois native whose family says went through a COVID-19 "psychosis." He took his own life last year as well after a bad case of COVID-19. His family said they believe Ben experienced COVID-19 paranoia and became panicked, nervous and scared at all times, feelings he never exhibited regularly pre-diagnosis.
Brycen's family has been advocating for mental health awareness since his death, and continue to do so. They've since set up the Brycen Gray Memorial Foundation, benefitting the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. They're also hosting a memorial golf outing in August to raise money for the foundation.
Editor's note: Video in the player above was originally published in a previous story about Bryce on Sept. 29, 2021.