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'I thought he was gone': West Fargo teen's family speaks out about recovery from suicide attempt

Sixteen-year-old Brady Prochnow has been through 3 surgeries after attempting to die by suicide. His family sat down with WDAY News Reporter Kevin Wallevand with a message to other families.

A teen in a "Packers trap and skeet" jersey sports a green and white baseball cap.
Brady Prochnow.
Contributed / Prochnow family

Editor’s note: If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.

WEST FARGO — Brady Prochnow is like so many other kids in the region who loved his pickup, dog and the outdoors.

"Hockey, baseball, he does trap shooting," said Brady Prochnow's mother, Bobbi Prochnow. "And he hunts, and that is what his bread and butter is. He loves hunting."

But Brady Prochnow, like a growing number of kids, faced mental health issues.

"He had been to counseling. He had some tools in his toolbox," Bobbi Prochnow said.


Three weeks ago, he came home, greeted everyone, went to the basement and tried to die by suicide. In his note to loved ones, he said things got to be "too much." He told them he loved them, but "his fight was done."

When Bobbi Prochnow got the news, she was on a 50th birthday vacation in Mexico. She immediately left and had to do something no mother should have to do.

"I remember doing it. I started writing his obituary on the plane because I wanted to be the one to tell his story," she said. "I thought he was gone. I thought he was gone already."

A woman dressed all in black sits on a couch and holds a small wooden cross.
Bobbi Prochnow speaks about her son's recovery from attempting to take his own life.

Walking into the intensive care unit at Sanford Health, the Prochnow family was hardly prepared to hear that injuries to Brady's brain were critical.

"The doctors came in and said, 'There isn't much we can do for him,'" Bobbi Prochnow said.

For the last three weeks, Bobbi Prochnow has used a CaringBridge patient website to keep people posted on her son's progress . He is making baby steps. He's in physical and occupational therapy, sitting up and signaling yes and no. Communicating to others what his brain is telling him to say is still hard.

"It is frustrating for him. It is stuff he has done his whole life. All of a sudden, he can't stick his tongue out, and he doesn't know why," Bobbi Prochnow said.

But she also uses CaringBridge as a platform to remind others to tell your family you love them, bring treats to the school secretary or janitor. In other words, reach out.


"I had all these things on my mind and shoulders. It was too much, and I needed to get it out," Bobbi Prochnow said.

The biggest development this week was when Brady Prochnow, writing on a board, asked his family what happened.

"That was the day I told him what happened, and it was horrifying," Bobbi Prochnow said.

The family hopes his survival story will spur others struggling to have conversations about mental health.

"I am glad we got over this milestone of what happened. My next thing is, I don't want him to feel sorry for what happened. He didn't do anything wrong; he was struggling," Bobbi Prochnow said.

She went from writing her son's obituary on a plane to writing about a miracle boy, a story with chapters yet to come.

To donate to the Prochnow family, visit their Lend A Hand Up page .

Check out our weekly list of new fundraisers and benefits from Lend A Hand Up, a nonprofit crowdfunding site that adds a 20% boost to online donations.

Kevin Wallevand has been a Reporter at WDAY-TV since 1983. He is a native of Vining, Minnesota in Otter Tail County. His series and documentary work have brought him to Africa, Vietnam, Haiti, Kosovo, South America, Mongolia, Juarez,Mexico and the Middle East. He is an multiple Emmy and national Edward R. Murrow award recipient.

Contact Email: kwallevand@wday.com
Phone Number: (701) 241-5317
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