Grieving Idaho family plans to start nonprofit to raise mental health awareness

Grieving Idaho family plans to start nonprofit to raise mental health awareness

The Centers for Disease Control released a report Thursday showing a sharp rise in suicide rates across the United States in the past 20 years.

The state of Idaho had one the largest increases, as much as 50 percent.

Behind those numbers, though, are people – families and communities who grieve their loss.

One Hayden, Idaho, family is feeling that grief after their teenage son took his own life this week.

Kevin Croffoot responds to suicide calls in his profession as a firefighter, but he never thought he would have to as a parent.

“I knew right away – in my gut, that oh my god, my son Austin took his own life,” said Croffoot.

Austin left letters behind, opening his parents’ eyes to his struggles that they hadn’t seen and pain they hadn’t known the depths of.

“He was just a fun loving caring kid and happy,” said Croffoot. “He was always happy but he had a dark spot.”

His letters, however, showed Kevin and Kathy Croffoot their next step forward.

“My son wanted something done and wanted a change.”

It was Kathy’s idea to create a non-profit in Austin’s name, one to generate awareness and connect people to mental health resources.

It starts with conversation which Kevin plans to begin himself at Austin’s vigil Friday night.

Talk to your parents or your children. Talk to an emergency hotline or a trusted friend. Kevin says it begins with talking, and he still talks to his son everyday.

“Austin said he’s not gone, he’s physically not here,” said Croffoot. “But he’s up in the stars and he said if anyone wanted to talk, just look at the stars because he’s looking down.”