An Illinois mother said her teenage son died by suicide after struggling with isolation due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The mother, Lisa Moore, is now suing Gov. J.B. Pritzker because she believes her son Trevor Till's October death was a "proximate cause" of the state's restrictions, the lawsuit says.
The suit was filed last month in LaSalle County Circuit Court by Moore and four other parents against the governor and the Illinois High School Association. It accuses Pritzker of canceling or indefinitely delaying high school sports and activities while allowing college and professional athletics to continue.
"There is no rational or reasonable basis to prohibit certain high school sports while at the same time allowing the same sports to be played by college and professional athletes," the lawsuit says.
Moore wrote in a Facebook post that Trevor "was a super involved young man at Seneca High School." He played sports, was in the marching band, was class president, the lead in school plays and participated in many other activities.
"Many days he was at school from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Seneca High School was his life," she wrote. "Trevor was happy, a great student and had so many goals for his future."
Moore said in a phone interview on Friday that her son's senior year of high school was suddenly upended when the governor halted high school sports and activities. Trevor could no longer participate in the things he loved and had to attend class online.
The teen graduated from Seneca High School in June and started at the University of Illinois, but his college experience was nothing like he had hoped.
Due to the pandemic, Trevor attended most of his classes via Zoom and had to social distance whenever he was not in his dorm.
He didn't have a roommate and could not attend college activities because they were canceled.
His "whole heart and soul" were at the high school, Moore said, and he went to the University of Illinois with that same positive attitude.
"It breaks my heart that he sat in his dorm room alone so much," Moore said.
Moore said she knew the 18-year-old history major was struggling with being isolated but didn't know how bad it was. She said they talked a few days before his Oct. 21 death and made plans for Thanksgiving.
She said she believes her son would still be alive if Pritzker had handled the pandemic differently.
"Illinois is no better off than any of these other states that haven't closed or that have been allowing activities," she said. "And these poor kids, they’re way down the line for when they’re going to get a Covid shot. So they're not supposed to do anything until two years from now or a year and a half from now?"
"I believe the PTSD these kids are going to face from all of this social isolation and missing out on activities and missing out on a normal school year, let alone the academic factors, is going to be mind baffling.”
Attorney Laura Grochocki, with the nonprofit organization Remember America Action, is representing Moore and the other parents in the lawsuit. She said that Pritzker's restriction on high school athletics and activities is discriminatory.
"You can't discriminate against high school students in favor of pro athletes and college athletes just because they're rich and powerful," she said.
The Illinois High School Association said that it safely conducted multiple low- and medium-risk sports during the fall and that since the lawsuit was filed, many high school sports have begun holding practices and games.
"We know that Illinois high school students are going to benefit mentally, emotionally and physically as a result of returning to participate in sports and activities," the organization said.
Pritzker's office did not immediately return a request for comment on Friday. The governor previously addressed the lawsuit during a coronavirus briefing, according to The Chicago Sun-Times.
"Professional sports and college sports have significant resources for protecting their players," Pritzker said. "For creating social distance, for example, by having multiple locker rooms; by making sure they have plexiglass everywhere that they need to separate the players; to test them on a much more regular basis than an individual high school or district could afford. That’s why there is a difference."
Three of the other parents in the lawsuit said their children have struggled with depression because they are missing out on their senior year of high school due to classes and sports being canceled or delayed.
Another parent said that her two children have missed out on college scholarships because they could not be seen by recruits.
If you or someone you know is at risk of suicide please call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, text TALK to 741741 or visit SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional resources.