New Illinois Scholarship Honors Student Who Took His Own Life
Dylan Buckner was the star quarterback at Glenbrook North High School located in Northbrook, a Chicago suburb. He was also an honor student. The 18-year-old took his life in January 2021, just months before his high school graduation. This week, BrEpic Communications LLC, a Chicago-based public relations firm, unveiled the BrEpic Leadership Award. The award, which is in partnership with the Dylan Buckner Foundation, will be presented in Buckner’s memory.
More on the Scholarship
The scholarship is only available to Glenbrook North High School students and is valued at $1,000. To qualify for application to the scholarship fund, students must be considered by peers to be a “champion for mental health.” As part of the application phase, these students must also submit a written response to the question “What does leadership mean to you?”
What They Had to Say
BrEpic founder and CEO Justin Breen explains that his firm is “proud to partner with the Dylan Buckner Foundation to create the BrEpic Leadership Award.” He went on to add, “Mental health awareness is incredibly important, especially now. I hope this award brings awareness to Dylan’s family and their foundation to help others and create awareness for mental health.”
Dylan’s father, Chris Buckner says, “Karen (Dylan’s mother), Ethan (Dylan’s brother), and I are humbled and extremely grateful that kind and generous people like Justin and BrEpic are supporting our family and helping The Dylan Buckner Foundation to break the stigma around mental illness.” He states that, “we know we can save lives and make the world a better place,” by encouraging and supporting future generations of leaders and mental health champions.
The Pandemic Did Not Help
As the pandemic intensified across the country, so did various protocols and guidelines. Each state followed its own mandates, but the majority of them revolved around reducing exposure to a virus that was not fully understood at the time. To say it was challenging is putting it lightly. Precautions went as far as separating individuals from group settings to provide a “safety gap” of space between them to assist with controlling the spread of the virus. This measure included such things as physical distancing, lockdowns or closures of public places, hand sanitizing, and mask-wearing.
The protocols had a particularly major impact on schools. According to Dylan’s father, Chris Buckner, “There’s no doubt in our minds that the stress he was feeling as a result of school closures, not being able to be with his friends, and not getting to play football absolutely contributed to his death.” He explains that although the focus at the time when the pandemic hit was to “flatten the curve of COVID-19 deaths,” he felt there was a greater need to, “flatten the curve of suicide deaths because I really think it’s a crisis.”
How You Can Help
Chris Buckner was vocal during the pandemic when remote learning was the option chosen to address the need to keep school students safe. At the time, he urged lawmakers to permit schools to reopen arguing that students “need the interaction,” and has since pleaded with parents and peers to watch out for each other. He says it is vitally important to watch for signs of depression developing in today’s youth.
“Depression and potential suicidal thoughts are very hard to see,” Buckner points out. “You really have to talk with your kids, really, really talk to them.” He suggests that kids should also keep a close eye on their friends and also have serious discussions. For teens, adolescents, and young adults seeking help, new mental health practices are opening around the state. One example is Geode Health in Wheaton, Illinois.
A bright, young high school student took his life during the pandemic. Although lockdowns and school closures restricting the activities of youth were partly to blame, the surviving family has used their tragic loss to help others. In the words of Dylan Buckner’s father, “Don’t be ashamed of it. Mental illness is not unlike cancer or if you’ve got a broken bone in a freak accident, you wouldn’t be ashamed of it. You didn’t do anything to get it. And you certainly wouldn’t try to get better without talking to your parents, your friends, seeing a doctor, and taking medication.”
The Dylan Buckner Foundation, in partnership with BrEpic Communications LLC, has created the BrEpic Leadership Award. It is a $1,000 scholarship to be awarded annually to a student in Buckner’s high school. It will keep Dylan’s memory and a focus on mental health alive.