WASHINGTON, DC – Before he contracted the coronavirus, 17-year-old Bryson Gray was a popular student athlete at St. Edward High School, who was dubbed the comedian by his friends and family. After contracting the virus that killed more than 740,000 Americans, Gray showed neurological problems related to COVID before he committed suicide in April.
Gray’s mother, Tara, said her son contracted the coronavirus on Monday. During his illness, he lost his sense of taste and smell. He was not eating or drinking and had a fever, nausea, and tingling in his arm. Some friends told he felt like he had lost his mind by Wednesday or Thursday after contracting the virus. He died on Friday. Gray said her son had no symptoms of depression before he contracted the coronavirus.
“We really think, 100% it was the coronavirus,” said Gray, the nurse who knew of others who had experienced mental health issues related to the coronavirus. Everything focuses on the respiratory aspects of COVID, but there are mental health implications. You are isolating COVID because you don’t want to spread it, but there is an impact on mental health that we need to monitor.”
Gray’s husband, Sean, reached out to the office of Congressman, Republican Rocky River, Anthony Gonzalez and asked him to sponsor legislation to advance research on COVID-19’s effects on the brain. Last week, Gonzalez introduced legislation called the “Brycen Gray and Ben Price COVID-19 Neurological Impact Act” that would authorize the National Science Foundation, in consultation with the National Institutes of Health, to award grants to support research in neuropsychiatric diseases. associated with COVID-19 infection.
The bill is named after Gray and a man from Illinois who developed mental health problems after an extended hospital stay due to the coronavirus and committed suicide. Gonzalez says neither of them had a history of mental illness prior to being diagnosed with COVID-19.
“We lost a talented, talented young man,” Gonzalez said of Gray in a House speech. “And the pain and harm inflicted on those left behind is something no one should ever bear. This is a moment when we must turn grief into action and actively find solutions.”
Research published in The Lancet Psychiatry indicates that nearly a third of coronavirus patients develop a neurological or psychiatric illness after being diagnosed and infected. One in eight of them is diagnosed with such a disease for the first time. Among the most common problems are anxiety, mood and substance disorders. Psychosis, dementia, brain hemorrhages, strokes and Parkinson’s disease have been linked to the coronavirus.
Gonzalez said he decided to introduce legislation to encourage research on coronavirus links to mental health after meeting with Gray’s family and speaking with colleagues in Congress whose constituents have submitted similar reports on mental health issues in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. He said he feared that research on the mental health effects of COVID would not be done without “targeted guidance” from Congress.
“The fact that Bryson Gray took his life didn’t make sense to a lot of people in the community because, by all accounts, friends, family, relatives, there was nothing wrong from a mental health standpoint that would lead to suicide,” Gonzalez said in an interview. “COVID is a new virus, and we don’t fully understand all the effects it has on the body or mind. We have to step up and make sure that we at least understand what is going on here so that we can prevent it and we can better inform voters.”
Gonzales’ legislation is co-sponsored by Republicans, including Bainbridge County Representative Dave Joyce and Democrats, including Susan Wild of Pennsylvania, Scott Peters of California and Tony Cardenas.
Gonzalez said he is looking for co-sponsors from the US Senate for the bill and believes it has a good chance of being incorporated into more important legislation if it does not pass on its own. It is supported by the Children’s Hospital Association and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
“As we work to restore our way of life and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, we cannot lose sight of the fact that many Americans continue to suffer from the long-term effects of this virus,” a statement from Joyce said. . This bipartisan legislation will provide critical support to research centers working to better understand and treat the neuropsychiatric illnesses associated with COVID-19. We must continue to fight for medical breakthroughs for Americans suffering from the lingering effects of COVID-19.”
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