9-Year-Old Kills Self After Being Bullied at School

Jamel Myles was a fourth grader at Joe Shoemaker Elementary School in Denver, Colorado. On August 23, four days after the beginning of the new school year, Jamel’s mom, Leia Pierce, picked her son up from school, along with his two siblings, and they went out to dinner as a family.

At home, she sent the kids to clean their rooms. Jamel had left his bedroom door ajar and when his mom went in, she discovered that her son had hanged himself. She tried to revive him but was unsuccessful. 

“My child died of bullying. My baby killed himself,” Jamel’s mother, Leia Pierce, told the Denver Post. “He didn’t deserve this. He wanted to make everybody happy even when he wasn’t. I want him back so bad.”

Pierce recounts how her son came out to her as gay over the summer:

“He looked so scared when he told me. He was like, ‘Mom, I’m gay.’ And I thought he was playing, so I looked back because I was driving, and he was all curled up, so scared. And I said, I still love you.”

Following his, Pierce recounts, “He went to school and said he was going to tell people he’s gay because he’s proud of himself.”

“Four days is all it took at school,” Pierce told TV station KDVR. “My son told my oldest daughter the kids at school told him to kill himself. I’m just sad he didn’t come to me.”

But it wasn’t just this year. According to Pierce, Jamel and his older sister had endured frequent bullying at school over the past school year.

Bullying is an insidious practice and one which both parents and teachers must deal with. As a teacher, I let my students know that I don’t tolerate any “mean comments” in class, but teachers can’t easily monitor students outside of the classroom. 

I don’t know whether Jamel’s teachers were at fault for not stopping any taunts that the youngster endured, but if that’s what happened, then Pierce has every right to be angry at the school for the death of her child.

A school has a legal responsibility to deal with bullying that occurs on school property: a school employee should step in immediately to stop it, remove other students from the scene, talk separately to both victim and bully and contact the parents of both.

Schools also need to be better prepared for kids coming out at a young age and parents need to talk to their children about this.

The problem is escalating. According to a study presented at the Pediatrics Academic Societies 2017 meeting, the number of children being hospitalized for contemplating or attempting suicide has doubled in the last decade.

The New York Times explains:

“Jamel’s death comes amid a startling rise in youth suicides, part of a larger public health crisis that has unfolded over a generation: Even as access to mental health care has expanded, the suicide rate in the United States has risen 25 percent since 1999. Middle schoolers are now just as likely to die from suicide as they are from traffic accidents.”

And according to a new report from the National Center for Health Statistics, the total death rate for 10 – to 19-year-olds increased 12 percent between 2013 and 2016, whereas it had declined 33 percent between 1999 and 2013.

The idea of a nine-year-old feeling so scared and depressed that he couldn’t talk to anyone and his only solution was to take his own life is heartbreaking.

“We need to be more loving, more caring, more accepting of each other,” said Pierce. “My heart breaks every second.”

For immediate help if you are in a crisis, call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), which is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All calls are confidential.

 

Photo Credit: Screenshot from CBS online video

79 comments

Jeanne R
Jeanne R1 months ago

Thank you for sharing.

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silja s
silja salonen1 months ago

when I read this story in the newspapers I was horrified. there is something inherently wrong with the way children are being raised to feel bullying is an acceptable social behaviour.

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Dave f
Dave fleming2 months ago

Very sad story .

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danii p
danii p2 months ago

so sad.

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danii p
danii p2 months ago

Thanks for sharing

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pam w
pam w2 months ago

And, Karen...don't forget that the hypocrites will bang on their bibles and claim that THEY should judge what's ''normal'' and what's not!

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Karen H
Karen H2 months ago

Kids bully because they hear their parents say horrible things about anyone who is "not them". The parents say those things because the guy in the WH sets the example that this kind of behavior, and those kinds of words, are acceptable.

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Diane E
Diane E2 months ago

A school should be a place of safety. Bigots must be controlled. Bullies must be weeded out and education must welcome all cultures and orientations equally.

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pam w
pam w2 months ago

This poor child was let down by most everyone in authority, wasn't he? It makes me sick.

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Joan E
Joan E2 months ago

OMG. Poor baby.

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