NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — More teens are taking their chance at a deadly game than many parents may realize, something a North Little Rock couple knows all too well after their son died playing Russian roulette.
The death of a 15-year-old Haskell boy who was playing roulette Friday, is dredging up memories of Jodi and Scott Chassells’ own son Gunnar.
“To not have him is devastating,” Mrs. Chassells said. “He was my baby.”
Reminders of Gunnar fill the couple’s North Little Rock home, but pictures stop at his senior year portrait, one of the last photos taken before the 17-year-old shot himself.
Last Thanksgiving, Gunnar was staying at a friend’s house and risked everything playing roulette with a gun.
“Gunnar knew what he was doing and it cost him his life,” Mr. Chassells said. “Gunnar was the youngest person in the room that night and we think he was trying to show off for the older kids.”
The Chassells don’t want other families to know their pain, so the couple started the non-profit Gunnar’s Purpose. They’re hoping to use the organization as a way to share Gunnar’s story in schools, and teach teens they are not invincible.
“We need to let them know that the consequences are real,” Mr. Chassells said.
It’s a reality the Chassells know all too well, left cherishing memories of their only child and pleading parents to take their warning seriously.
“We’re not okay, we’ll never be okay. It changes you,” Mrs. Chassells said.
The Chassells say through their work, they’ve learned more teens are playing Russian Roulette but many deadly cases go unreported since their death is considered a suicide.
The couple is planning on starting their speeches in schools by October. More information on Gunnar’s Purpose can be found here.