On May 17, 2020, during Governor Whitmer’s non-ending shutdown, my 11-year-old son ended his life.
The third of four children, Maximus was a very intelligent boy. He was infatuated with history, particularly wars. He loved learning about bugs and other random, silly things. But Max struggled. He was diagnosed with ADHD when he was approximately 6 years old but I always knew there was something else “off.”
Around late January or early February 2020 we enrolled Max into Jiu-Jitsu to try and work out some of the issues he was dealing with and get him physically active. I was pleasantly surprised to find he loved it, and it was making a huge difference in tackling his issues.
However, due to Governor Whitmer’s aggressive shutdown, by mid to late March everything changed and went downhill for Maximus. Things would never be the same. Little did I know it was the beginning of his end.
The state went into full lockdown and there was no more Jiu-Jitsu. There was no school, no restaurants, no parks or playgrounds, no movie theaters or bowling alleys. The state barely wanted us to go to the grocery store. Stores of all kinds were closing early, opening late and running out of all the entertainment items such as board games, puzzles and arts-n-craft stuff. A child’s 11-year-old developing mind is not meant to be cooped up, and under lock and key. It is meant to explore, exert itself, and experience life and people from outside the four corners of one’s bedroom.
Maximus was stuck at home with our family, continuing to struggle, just waiting to get back to normal. We were waiting for the Governor to give the “all clear” that “the curve had flattened.” But it never came and Max continued on a downward spiral. We could not shake the despair that was setting in. And on May 17, 2020 my husband and I suffered the worst loss of our life: our own son being so hopeless he ended his life.
Reeling from grief, we were unable to even mourn properly. We had to wait a month before we could have any type of memorial for Max because all the churches were ordered to close and funerals had been canceled. Unable to get into contact with therapists for myself, my husband and our 3 grieving children we worried for them, on top of trying to grasp the loss of our dear son.
I have no doubt the Governor’s choice of lockdown played a huge part into why our boy isn’t here today. Since Max’s tragic passing, we have learned of four teens from our school district who have lost their life due to suicide.
I have no doubt this lockdown played a huge part into why our boy isn’t here today
– Melissa Durham
Governor Whitmer’s sweeping one-size-fits-all lockdowns might have made some sense in the beginning, when no one, including Governor Whitmer, knew what we were facing. But after 30 days or so, with access to science and resources, she should have been able to craft more sensible orders.
If a combination of masks and plexiglass shields were keeping grocery store workers healthy on the job, certainly we could provide the counseling services children needed. But Whitmer didn’t bother with those details; she just put the hammer down. And my Maximus suffered for it.
I guess it played well for Governor Whitmer on television, but families and individuals suffered and children lost their lives, because of depression and despair.
Neither Maximus nor any of these other children actually contracted COVID, but they certainly count as part of the death toll, thanks to the tunnel vision of Governor Whitmer, who never seemed to realize the pain and loss that made her cure worse, for many, than the disease.
I have no doubt Governor Whitmer’s lack of leadership and poor choices are a significant reason my Maximus is not here with us today. I will not forget.
A grieving, concerned parent