A Denver mom is reeling over the death of her 9-year-old son. She said he killed himself only 4 days after starting school, and that bullying was a factor in his suicide after he came out to her as gay over the summer.
Leia Pierce’s young son, Jamel Myles, had just started fourth grade at Joe Shoemaker Elementary School.
“He looked so scared when he told me. He was like, ‘Mom I’m gay,'” Pierce told Denver television station, KDVR. “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.'”
The emotional mother told the station her son also wanted to start dressing more femininely and wanted to tell his classmates about being gay “because he’s proud of himself,” she said.
“He goes, ‘Can I be honest with you?'” Pierce told KDVR. “I was like, ‘sure.’ He’s like, ‘I know you buy me boy stuff because I’m a boy, but I’d rather dress like a girl.'”
Only four days into the new school year, Pierce said her son Jamel took his own life. She found him dead in their Denver home.
“Four days is all it took at school. I could just imagine what they said to him,” said Pierce. “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. I’m so upset he thought that was his option.”
Through her heartbreak, Pierce’s main goal is to spread awareness about the effects of bullying.
“We should have accountability for bullying. I think the child should. Because the child knows it’s wrong,” she told KDVR. “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.”
The station reports the Denver Police Department is investigating the death as a suicide.
Denver Public Schools said in a letter sent to families it’s providing extra social workers and its crisis team for students. The district said it will continue to offer support to the family, according to a statement provided to the station.
[If you’re thinking about hurting yourself, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit suicidepreventionhotline.org to live chat with someone. Help is out there and you are not alone.]
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