The family of a 12-year-old boy is mourning his loss after he was found dead in his family’s home following what they say was a relentless campaign of bullying at his school.
Andrew Leach was a student at Southaven Middle School in Mississippi, where according to his parents, he was harassed by others after coming out as bisexual. His mother, Cheryl Hudson, told WREG Andrew was found hanging in his family’s home on March 6.
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The devastated mother shared photos of her son’s open casket at his funeral on Facebook and warned other parents to be vigilant to help stop bullying.
“I, as a mother, am absolutely crushed. I say I’ve cried all I can cry, but then moments later, I break down again,” Hudson shared.
“My child was such a sweet-natured, fun-loving kid who was easily a Momma’s boy and I don’t think I’ll ever get over this. All your prayers and support have been humbling and overwhelming and I thank you all for everything you’ve done.”
Hudson said she had spoken to the school’s sixth-grade principal about her son being a target of bullying as she struggled to know what was the right course of action.
“I didn’t know how to handle it. His dad did talk to a teacher one time,” Hudson told the local news outlet. “But from what we are hearing, there was a group of kids that would go around calling him fat, ugly and worthless.”
Hudson told the outlet police were investigating the case, although PEOPLE could not immediately verify this.
Andrew’s father, Matt Leach, told WREG his son was being bullied because he was bisexual.
“He was struggling a lot internally with sexual orientation,” he said. “I think that really amped up the bullying.”
“Kids were telling him, ‘We’re gonna put hands on you. You’re not going to make it out of this bathroom.’ Things of that nature,” Matt said.
A GoFundMe was created for Andrew’s funeral which was held on March 9. The rest of the funds will go toward a rally to stop bullying in Desoto County, Mississippi, according to a Facebook post by Hudson.
“Our hearts are saddened as Andy has went [sic] to be with the Lord this evening,” his GoFundMe page read. “Andy was a fun loving, outgoing 12-year-old little boy. He will be missed deeply by all that knew and loved him.”
“No words could come close to expressing what this family is enduring. I hope to raise funds to help with his final expenses,” the post continued. “All money will go for arrangements and to help his family in the days ahead. If you can’t contribute monetarily I ask that you pray for his mom, dad, brothers, family & friends.”
“I ask that you kiss your kids and hug them a bit tighter. We never know when God may need them back. Please feel free to share the campaign and Thank You all for the love and support as we struggle to find peace in the days ahead. God Bless.”
DeSoto County Schools issued a statement obtained by WMC Action News 5 about bullying.
“All bullying reports are treated with utmost importance,” the statement read. “Students and parents are encouraged to contact school officials anytime there are bullying concerns, and they can use a link on the DeSoto County Schools website if they would prefer to report bullying incidents anonymously. All claims are investigated thoroughly, and school counselors are trained to help students and intervene when they are aware of a situation. Our hearts go out to this young student’s friends and family.”
For more information about the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline — which provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for them and their loved ones, and best practices for professionals — visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org.