Kingsport father calls for more mental health resources following son’s suicide

A Kingsport father is pushing for more mental health resources after his 15-year-old son committed suicide last week.

Jason Sexton said he noticed his son, Trevor, was struggling in school earlier this year.

“I just wanted him to talk to a therapist to see if maybe they could talk to him and see if they could get his focus back to where it needed to be,” Sexton said.

Jason said he called Holston Counseling Center with Frontier Health in Kingsport, but he says he was told it would be more than two months before they could see Trevor.

He scheduled an appointment for May 7,  but Trevor passed away on April 14.

“He was the last kid I would have ever thought would do something like this or even be depressed, because he was always happy,” Sexton said. “It still doesn’t seem real. I still open his door to see if he’s in his bed.”

Carolyn Hawkins, co-president of the Johnson City chapter for National Alliance on Mental Health Illness (NAMI), said with many mental health providers, urgency matters.

“Unfortunately, there are backlogs trying to get in to see people,” Hawkins said.

She said signs of depression, especially with teenagers, isn’t always clear for parents.

“Any behavior that’s really stranger and out of the normal could be a clue for suicide or could be a clue for mental health which could lead to suicide,” Hawkins said.

It’s care Jason said he wishes Trevor would have had.

“Two months is way too long. We need more providers,” Sexton said. “If there had been maybe a therapist or somebody to talk to him, we will never know that answer, but I would surely hope so that he would have confided in them.”

News Channel 11 reached out to Joshua Moore, communications and public relations coordinator for Frontier Health, for a statement.

While Frontier Health cannot comment on any specific individual, we can speak to our process related to access to care. There are multiple ways an individual can access services. We have 24\7 access to a crisis services.We have a walk-in center in Johnson City which will expand to include a children’s walk in center in July, with the opening of our new facility. Individuals can contact any outpatient location to access non-urgent services and those facilities are located ineach county we serve. We make every effort to connect people with services efficiently upon request and to accommodate their scheduling needs and preferences.”

News Channel 11 asked about wait times for counseling services, officials said patients are screened at Frontier Health to determine urgency.

Patients could be seen in an hour or have to wait a few weeks, depending on the results of the evaluation.

For more information about NAMI in Johnson City, call 423-930-8035.

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or suicide, call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.


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