A Colorado mother says her 9-year-old son committed suicide after being bullied at school.
In an interview with KDVR, Leia Pierce said her son Jamel Myles was taunted by bullies after he told his classmates he was gay. Jamel, who was a fourth grader at Joe Shoemaker Elementary School in Denver had recently come out to his mother over the summer.
“And 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,'” Pierce said.
“And he goes, ‘Can I be honest with you?'” she continued. “And I was like, ‘Sure,’ and he’s like, ‘I know you buy me boy stuff because I’m a boy, but I’d rather dress like a girl.'”
Pierce said Jamel planned to tell his classmates when he returned to school “because he’s proud of himself.”
Last Thursday, just four days into the school year, Jamel killed himself inside his home. His death is being investigated as a suicide, KDVR reports.
“Four days is all it took at school. I could just imagine what they said to him,” Pierce said. “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.”
Denver Public Schools sent a letter to families saying its providing extra social workers and a crisis team for students. They’re also offering support to the family.
“We should have accountability for bullying. I think the child should. Because the child knows it’s wrong. The child wouldn’t want someone to do it to them. I think the parent should be held because obviously the parents are either teaching them to be like that, or they’re treating them like that,” Pierce added.
For those struggling with suicidal thoughts, there is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-8255), which provides free and confidential support 24/7.