Chad McCord was not your ordinary teenager. He was an Eagle Scout. He was in the top 15% of his class at Oakville High School and had almost 20 college credits. He was a church youth group retreat leader and an outstanding athlete. During his 3-1/2 years of high school, he earned 5 “most something” plaque awards for cross-country, soccer, and track. He was being recruited by a Division 1 school to play college soccer. He was nominated for and attended a week-long leadership program in Washington, DC. As a volunteer, he spent many hours as a coach and worker for the Kirkwood Track Club. He was the assistant coach for his church CYC track team for four years.
Chad had a special compassion and respect for everyone. He loved to volunteer, especially with children with special needs. This was clear in his work with Ride On St. Louis, an equestrian therapy program for physically challenged children.
Chad’s life was forever changed after depression reared its ugly and deadly head. The disease was just as deadly and invasive as cancer. Slowly, it took over Chad’s spirit, body and mind. With every passing day, Chad lost hope and began seeing himself as a burden to all. His depression blinded him to the many gifts he had.
Chad could no longer hide his depression behind the mask he wore so well. In October 2003, Chad was diagnosed with depression and an anxiety disorder. Several months later, he was diagnosed with OCD (obsessing to hurt himself) and rapid cycling bipolar disorder.
As Chad underwent his treatment, he vowed that after he got better he wanted to make a difference in people’s lives by bringing mental illness out of the closet. He said that once he was better, he wanted to stand in front of the school assembly and say, “Hi, my name is Chad McCord, and I suffer from depression.” He commented, “If I had cancer, students would rally around me and make posters and give me a hero’s welcome when I came back to school. But since I have a mental illness, the students will shy away from me. They will think I am weird and not want to be around me.”
Chad McCord was 18 years old when he lost his battle with depression and took his life on April 15, 2004. Unfortunately, Chad left this world before fulfilling his dream to increase awareness and acceptance of mental illness. Chad’s parents, Larry and Marian McCord, vowed to be Chad's voice. In 2005, they founded CHADS Coalition for Mental Health in memory of their son, Chad. CHADS' goal is to save teen lives.
If you, your child, or someone else you know is struggling with mental illness and/or
thoughts of suicide, know that there is hope and help.
Check out our resources page to find help that is right for you.