Grieving their son. The parents of Tyler Sanders spoke out after the 9-1-1: Lone Star actor’s cause of death was revealed to be an accidental fentanyl overdose.
“Tyler was an ambitious, hard-working actor who was dealing with deep and persistent depression,” David Sanders wrote in a press release on Thursday, December 29. “Although actively seeking treatment, Tyler struggled to find relief and chose to experiment with drugs. Tyler fell into drug use, not as a way to have fun socially, but rather as an attempt to overcome his profound mental health struggle.”
In June, the Rookie alum died at age 18 at his home in Los Angeles. Earlier this week, the L.A. County Medical Examiner confirmed that the teen’s death was caused by the effects of fentanyl. The coroner’s report noted that the Daytime Emmy nominee texted a friend the night before his death and told the acquaintance he’d been using the narcotic.
Tyler’s father said that his family continues “to mourn his death,” but they want to share his story “in hopes of furthering the conversation around this pervasive issue.”
The actor’s mother, Ginger Sanders, also shared her thoughts, adding: “Losing Tyler due to fentanyl poisoning has been incredibly difficult.” She went on to say that her son suffered from depression.
“I want others to understand that we are a family much like all other families who never thought this could happen to us,” she continued. “Tyler had a strong support system and still could not overcome his persistent depression. Perhaps because of his depression, Tyler sought out deep connections and to bring those around him joy. While Tyler quietly fought his inner battles, he was outwardly determined to make sure no one felt as he did. Tyler loved the Lord, loved people and did his best every day. It is our sincere prayer that our story might save others.”
Joe Nussbaum, who directed Tyler in Just Add Magic: Mystery City, also announced that he is creating the “Do More for Tyler” initiative, which he hopes will help raise awareness of mental health struggles among child actors.
“Tyler was so focused on his acting career that he would often write ‘Do More’ on his hand to remind him to work to achieve his goals,” Nussbaum, 49, said. “Now, it’s our turn to ‘Do More.’ In Tyler’s honor, myself and industry colleagues throughout kids TV have come together to form the ‘Do More’ Initiative. We want to improve how the industry approaches the mental health of our youngest and most vulnerable colleagues — child actors.”
In a statement on the project’s website, the filmmaker further outlined the aims of the initiative, explaining that “the first goal” is to “standardize and implement an orientation seminar” for young actors and their parents that will outline common mental health issues.
“This will be followed by check-ins both during and after production,” the site reads. “We don’t know if this type of program would have saved Tyler. But we know we have to try. We know that we can do more. And we will.”
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
For access to all our exclusive celebrity videos and interviews – Subscribe on YouTube!