First Drayke Hardman came home from his Utah school with a black eye.A few days later, the 12-year-old boy skipped basketball practice.Then, last week, Drayke died by suicide.
Drayke’s family are now speaking out to raise awareness about bullying in schools, and the devastating impact it can have on young, impressionable and innocent children.”I’m angry and I’m hurt and I’m broken,” Samie Hardman, Drayke’s mum, told US news outlet ABC.”Yet part of me just wants this bully to find peace. To be fixed. To not have any other kids fall.” Ms Hardman and her husband Andrew urged families to be vigilant in the home, and to intervene if they find out their child is being bullied or the bully themselves.Teaching kindness could save lives, they said.The Hardmans had no idea Drayke was being bullied at school.”My handsome boy was fighting a battle that not even I could save him,” Ms Hardman wrote on her Instagram, after Drayke died in a Utah intensive care clinic last Thursday.”It is real, it is silent and there is nothing absolutely nothing as a parent you can do to take this deep hurt away.”There are no signs, only hurtful words of others that ultimately stole OUR Drayke from this cruel place.”How does a 12 year old who was so knowingly fiercely loved by everyone think that life is so hard he needs to take himself from it.”
The Hardmans have started an online campaign, #DoItForDrayke, to tackle schoolyard bullying.Purple ribbons, in honour of Drayke’s favourite colour, have been hung on lampposts in his hometown Tooele.Drayke’s tragic death has also caught the attention of NBA stars from the Utah Jazz, a basketball team the youngster loved to support.Jazz stars Donovan Mitchell, Joe Ingles and Rudy Gobert have all contributed too the family’s online fund raiser.Mitchell had even sent the family a personal message.”It says, ‘your boy will be taking the court with us tonight,'” Ms Hardman said.
Mr Hardman believed the bully who tormented his son was also a victim.”Deep down there’s something broken that this child took from my son, and it has to come from somewhere because … children aren’t naturally angry,” he said.”So for him to have to attack my son to build his confidence means he was lacking something.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.”Readers seeking support can contactLifeline 13 11 14 or beyondblue 1300 22 4636