It was an emotional homecoming for Kevin Atwood on Monday.
He was returning to Bettendorf High School, where he graduated in 1988, to talk about something no parent should ever have to.
“Back when I was attending high school there, never in a million years would I have thought that I would have been back there 30 years later talking about my son taking his own life,” said Atwood.
This is the fourth school Atwood has spoken at for Foster’s Voice, an organization Atwood and his wife, Jaime, founded after their son died by suicide over the summer.
This presentation was different. Atwood was speaking to students who lost a classmate to suicide just three days ago.
“They need to know it’s not their fault. They need to know that they had nothing to do with the option. They need to know that it is an illness, just like my son’s illness,” he said.
Atwood said that’s something he still struggles with himself, even 144 days after Foster’s death. He said knowing another set of parents is now going through the same pain makes it harder.
“I remember vividly what it’s like. It’s the worst day of your life when you find out the news and the next week is the worst week of your life,” he said.
Atwood said today’s presentation was difficult, but he will always share his son’s story with students no matter how hard it is.
“They’re worth that,” he said. “They’re worth what we have to go through.”