CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — A Chesterfield County man is taking advantage of a second chance at life after he attempted suicide when he was a teenager.

Neico Hayden was 17-years-old when he shot himself in the face in 2016.

“I was foolish with a 12-gauge shotgun. [I] shot myself in an attempt to take my life,” Hayden said.

His mother, Robin Hayden, found him lying on his bedroom floor. First responders took him to Chippenham Hospital.

Hayden’s mother said he died twice in the ambulance and the next day he was flown to VCU Medical Center. “Shock. I was in shock for about two years and then the reality really set in,” she said.

He suffered a traumatic brain injury, his bilateral frontal lobe was gone and his left eye had to be removed.

Hayden continues to experience long-term side effects as a result of the suicide attempt to this day; including Tourette’s, blindness and epilepsy.

Hayden’s mother said she didn’t notice any warning signs and thought her son was displaying typical teen behavior.

“No mother should see what I saw. No mother,” she said. “I’d be lying if I said I’m ok, because I’m not.”

The Virginia Department of Health recently reported the results of the Youth Risk Behavioral Surveillance Survey.

It showed in 2019, 16% of Virginia high school students who participated in the survey seriously considered suicide. 7% of high school students attempted suicide.

VDH also reported suicide was the second leading cause of death in youth from nine to 18-years-old in Virginia between 2016 to 2020.

Hayden was a part of the junior ROTC and planned to join the U.S. Marine Corps after graduation. The day after his suicide attempt, he was supposed to sign up for boot camp.

Six months after the incident, Hayden graduated from James River High School. He enjoys car shows and he continues to exercise at the gym.

Robin Hayden and her son encourage anyone experiencing self-harming thoughts to contact the suicide hotline, talk to friends, or contact them directly through their social media pages.

“If you think nobody cares, you matter. We matter. We may not have met you in person, but we’ve met you,” Hayden said.

“We just want you healthy. We just want you to know that tomorrow is a brighter day,” Hayden’s mother added.

Hayden is raising awareness of self-harm and suicide prevention. You can find him on Facebook @Neicospack and on TikTok @Neicostrong16.