As children and teens are heading back to school right now, the dark reality of bullying is once again making headlines.
For a 9-year-old boy in Denver, the traumatizing effects of bullying led him to commit suicide after just a few days into the new school year.
Jamel Myles had started the fourth grade at Joe Shoemaker Elementary School last Monday and by Thursday of that week, he had taken his own life.
During the summer break, Jamel had come out as gay to his mother, Leia Pierce.
Pierce was supportive of her young son's admission, she told local Denver news station Fox-31.
"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 also added that Jamel expressed his desire to dress with a more feminine look.
Although Jamel's coming out was met with love and support from his mother, it was not the same situation once he started school.
The young boy decided to come out to his friends and classmates because he felt proud of who he was. Jamel was then met with heartbreaking bullying from his peers.
Lea Pierce found her young son on Thursday of last week in their home in Denver after he had committed suicide.
According to Pierce, Jamel had opened up to his older sister about what was happening.
"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."
Sadly, Jamel had taken the cruel words of those bullies to heart. The school district is said to be offering their support to the devastated family, as well as providing extra social workers and a crisis team for students.
For Lea Pierce, she hopes that the tragic circumstances of Jamel's death will prompt better awareness on the negative effects of bullying.
"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."
Upon hearing the news of Jamel's death, Twitter users have expressed their condolences, along with their frustrations regarding the epidemic of bullying among young people.
9...Jamel Myles was only 9 years old & entering the 4th grade. He told his mother that he was “excited” to come out to his friends at school bc, like everyone deserves to be, he was PROUD of who he was, but the other kids at his school didn’t accept him. I’m HEARTBROKEN. https://t.co/6z8RyXWNQ8
— Ugly (@SeanAndrewz) August 27, 2018
His name is Jamel Myles and just from this picture you can tell he had such a bright personality. I’m praying for a future where children can stand proud in their identities without being persecuted. May he Rest In Peace https://t.co/n8AZhNWzw8
— Chakra Khan (@TheDaintyThug) August 27, 2018
Jamel Myles was just 9 years old when he took his own life due to homophobic bullying at school. 9 years old. I can’t imagine the pain a 9 year old must feel to think suicide is the only option. He was still a baby with so much to look forward to & achieve. RIP Jamel. pic.twitter.com/hEA29Hbxk8
— Eleanor Neale (@EleanorxNeale) August 28, 2018
Bullying among kids and teens continues to a problem in schools across America. According to StopBullying.gov, LGBTQ youth are at an increased risk for attempts at suicide, even if bullying is not a factor. That being said, the site adds that LGBTQ youth are also at an increased risk for bullying.
If you or someone you know is struggling with bullying or thoughts of suicide, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
Jill Zwarensteyn is a writer and Michigan native. When she's not writing, Jill enjoys Zumba class, travel, and referencing classic Seinfeld episodes.