Utah Parents Speak Out After Their Bullied Son, 12, Died by Suicide

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GoFundMe Drayke Hardman

Celebrities and people around the country are sending a strong message against bullying after a 12-year-old boy from Utah died of suicide.

More than $125,000 has been raised in a GoFundMe campaign for the funeral expenses of Drayke Hardman, a young boy who died by suicide last Thursday after he was repeatedly picked on at school over the last year, CBS station KUTV reported.

Drayke's parents, Samie and Andrew Hardman, repeatedly checked on their son's mental health and even asked him if he was having suicidal thoughts, the outlet reported. Drayke assured them that he wasn't.

"He said, 'no, no,' and it was almost like he was disgusted that I would have even asked him," Samie told KUTV.

Though the school suspended the student who was bullying Drayke, the abuse continued, Samie and Andrew told the outlet.

The couple said they noticed that Drayke had a black eye after he returned home from school this month. Then, on Feb. 9, Drayke asked to skip his evening basketball practice. When the family returned home, they discovered he had attempted to end his life, and he was pronounced dead the next day, KUTV reported.

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"Deep down there's something broken that this child took from my son, and it has to come from somewhere because like Samie said, children aren't naturally angry," Andrew told ABC station KTVX of the child who bullied Drayke.

"So for him to have to attack my son to build his confidence means he was lacking something," he added. "So, in a sense, this bully was also a victim, and that's where we need to find the solution is teaching our children that the world is broken, but they're the generation that is going to fix it."

According to StopBullying.gov, 20 percent of U.S. students aged 12 to 18 experienced bullying, with about 46 percent of them reporting the incidents to adults at their school.

While speaking to KTVX, Samie said her son enjoyed it when the people around him were having fun.

"Drayke's personality was all about people," she said. "He loved to make people laugh. He loved to do what he could to always make sure that somebody had a friend."

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In the days since Drayke's death, many have posted tributes to him on social media along with calls to stop bullying in schools and teach kindness — a movement called Do It For Drayke.

"My heart is broken for Drayke and his family, and every child who has been the victim to bullying," model Kaia Gerber wrote in her Instagram story on Wednesday. "PLEASE take the time to read this, show this to your children, start the conversation."

"Let's teach our children kindness and compassion. Bullying HAS NEVER and WILL NEVER be 'cool,'" she continued in her message.

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Members of the Utah Jazz also reached out to express their support and invited Drayke's family to present players Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert with their 2022 NBA All-Star commemorative rings this week, according to FOX station KSTU.

Drayke was a big Jazz fan and especially loved their center, Gobert, the family said.

"With Rudy Gobert, Drayke just wanted to hug him. 'I just want to hug his knees,'" Samie told KSTU. "That's what he said. He said, 'I just want to hug Gobert so I can hug his knees.'"

Anyone who would like to donate to the family's GoFundMe can click here.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.