A teenage boy has taken his own life after watching his dad and namesake die from Covid-19.
Anthony Reyes Jr was found dead in his California bedroom by his mum Stephanie Reyes in the early hours of December 28.
Just months before the 17-year-old had begged his mum to let him be the sole family member allowed to say goodbye to his dad Anthony Michael Reyes Sr, 46, as he lay unconscious in a hospital bed on a ventilator.
Mrs Reyes told the Los Angeles Times that her son, who has two teen sisters, struggled with depression during the pandemic and even wrote about it for a school paper.
"The whole coronavirus affected me in many ways, and the way the pandemic affected me the most was through my mental state," he said in August, 2020.
The avid wrestler had been forced to stop the sport and was unable to see his friends and girlfriend, which Mrs Reyes said was "torture" for her son.
The family, who declined to get vaccinated out of fear of what it would do to their myriad of pre-existing health issues, tried to keep themselves safe as the pandemic continued and new Covid strains emerged.
However, last year, tragedy struck.
Entire family catches Covid
"At the end of August, my family and I contracted Covid and within a matter of days, I lost my husband," Mrs Reyes told Fox 11.
Anthony attended a sports pep rally on August 27 after returning to in-person classes at his high school.
Days later his family were alerted that one of their kids was a close contact.
Covid then spread through the household, infecting every family member as they prepared to move into a new home, the Los Angeles Times reports.
A week later, Anthony Sr was placed on a ventilator and died on September 11.
"My son wanted to go see his dad [and] against my better judgment, I let him go. It was the worst mistake I did," Mrs Reyes told Fox 11.
Son felt guilty about dad's virus death
The teen could barely sleep and kept seeing his dad’s face when he tried to close his eyes.
Mrs Reyes said the 17-year-old felt guilty about attending the sports rally.
"He felt guilty. He felt like he was the one who got us sick. He felt like he was the reason why his dad was gone, and we talked to him all the time, and told him 'It wasn't your fault'," Mrs Reyes said.
The mum, who is now encouraging parents to look out for warning signs among their kids, said she had tried to book mental health help for her children but the waiting lists were months long.
"I couldn’t believe my baby’s gone," she said.
A GoFundMe has been created to help the family pay for funeral expenses and medical bills.
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