Fairfield family spreads son's 'Afterglow' following suicide
"It's OK to not be OK" is the message from a Fairfield family this Mental Health Awareness Month following their son's suicide.
Fairfield Warde junior Kevin Kuczo died by suicide at the height of the pandemic. His father says you'd never have known of the mental health struggles he faced. He describes his son as the type of kid who could light up a room.
"You would want Kevin as your teammate, he was someone who's a rah rah guy," says Jim Kuczo. "Always the type of kid who was picking you up saying, making a positive mental attitude."
Jim Kuczo says the family was not prepared for what happened and that he wants parents to be more educated on the warning signs of mental health problems. They've started a nonprofit in their son's honor called Kevin's Afterglow.
"We want to spread Kevin's afterglow," says Jim Kuczo.
The nonprofit will award scholarships to college students working to become psychiatrists, therapists and counselors.
Jim Kuczo wants to reach younger students by installing "buddy benches" at Fairfield elementary schools.
"So if at recess there's something going on, and I feel sad, I'm going to sit on the buddy bench. And then hopefully someone will be like, 'Hey Jim, what's going on, are you feeling alright today? Do you want to come play with us?" he says.
He also wants to make sure mental health education is part of the curriculum at middle schools, and plans on sharing his son's story with high school students.
"People felt cared for by Kevin," says Jim Kuczo. "I know that Kevin is working through us. I know that we are making a difference in people's lives. It gives people hope that they're not just out on an island by themselves."
A golf tournament next month will raise money for Kevin's Afterglow. Click HERE for more information on the tournament.