I received an urgent message from my sister on April 15, 2020, that our cousin's adult grandson, Caleb, was missing. Caleb had graduated from a Salem high school in 2019 and had started an apprenticeship program. Caleb had a history of depression, but was excited about his new prospects in life.
Then COVID-19 hit and he was let go at work. He followed all of the social distancing and stay-at-home guidelines, as did his roommate. With life interrupted, the darkness of despair began to engulf him until it consumed him. Later that day, he was found dead from a self-inflicted wound.
I consider Caleb’s death COVID-19 related, though it will not appear on the daily OHA report. It is imperative that the most vulnerable, the elderly and those with fragile health are protected from COVID-19. However, all other Oregonians should be free to choose to stay home or be able to work with safe precautions.
We flattened the COVID19 curve, now it is time to flatten the projected 6,000 suicides related to COVID-19. Let's learn from Caleb: All lives matter and work and school are essential for all of us.