10/31/2014 06:21 EDT | Updated 12/31/2014 05:59 EST

Newfoundland man accused in soccer stabbing had mental health issues: stepmom

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. - The stepmother of a Newfoundland man accused of attempted murder in the stabbing of an 11-year-old boy says his family tried to get him help for mental health issues.

Nicholas Layman, 19, was charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault and assault with a weapon after an attack Sept. 25 on a soccer field in Conception Bay South, N.L.

A young boy was stabbed during an evening soccer clinic in the community west of St. John's. It happened in front of several other players as their parents watched.

"A few months before he turned 19 he started to get sick," Doreen Layman said outside court Friday after her stepson was returned in custody to a St. John's hospital for an extended psychiatric assessment.

His case is due back in court Nov. 20.

"It started with depression first," Layman said, fighting tears. "He wouldn't talk to us. He wouldn't tell us what was wrong."

She and her husband Scott, father of the accused, declined to discuss any specific diagnosis. But she stressed that many families are struggling with mental illness.

"When somebody is sick, especially when it's new to the family, you don't know how to approach it," she said. "It was very hard and we didn't know what to look for. We called a doctor because we knew he was deteriorating."

Layman said more education is needed about mental health problems that can take hold of young people between 15 and 25 years of age.

"We've got to teach our children how to deal with anxiety, how to deal with pressures in school. I mean, look at the suicide rates. What are we doing to our children? What are we doing in our society?"

Layman also asked that people not rush to judgment as the case makes its way through court.

"I was a person that was quick to judge as well. I totally understand that. But there's always more than one side of a story.

"There's always families out there, and everybody hurts."

Nicholas Layman's defence lawyer, Joan Dawson, declined to comment on what was said outside court.

The boy who was stabbed was released from hospital Oct. 7 and has been described by his mother as "her miracle."

Calvin Randell, president of the Conception Bay South Soccer Association, said at the time that the boy was recovering well and looking forward to playing again.

The attack made national headlines and left the small community in shock.

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