DENVER, Colorado — A Colorado boy took his own life the first week of school, and his mom says bullying is to blame.
Nine-year-old Jamel Myles committed suicide just days after telling classmates he was gay.
Leia Pierce says bullying was a factor in the death of her son, who started fourth grade at Joe Shoemaker Elementary School on Monday. Over the summer, his mom said he came out to her as gay.
“He looked so scared when he told me,” Pierce told KDVR-TV. “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 said her son wanted to tell his classmates.
“He went to school and said he was going to tell people he’s gay because he’s proud of himself,” she said.
On Thursday, four days into the school year, Pierce found her son dead in their Denver home.
“Four days is all it took at school,” she said. “I could just imagine what they said to him. 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.”
A letter from Denver Public Schools to families sent Friday said it’s providing extra social workers and its crisis team for students.
“I’m so upset that he thought that was his option,” Pierce said.
In the statement, the district said it will continue to offer support to the family. Through the devastation, Pierce wants to spread awareness about the effects of bullying.
“We should have accountability for bullying,” she said. “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 (accountable) because obviously the parents are either teaching them to be like that, or they’re treating them like that.”
She said she hopes no parent ever has to go through this pain because their child is different from everyone else.
The Denver Police Department is investigating the death as a suicide.
If you or anyone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts or depression, there resources available.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-8255): Speak with someone who will provide free and confidential support 24 hours a day, seven days a week. To learn how to help someone in crisis, call the same number.