Nine-year-old boy dies after homophobic bullying from classmates

  • 28/08/2018

A nine-year-old boy took his own life because of homophobic bullying he endured at his Denver school, his mother says. 

Leia Pierce says her son Jamel Myles recently revealed to her that he was gay and wanted to tell his classmates, local news channel KDVR reports. 

"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,'" Ms Pierce said.

"He went to school and said he was gonna tell people he's gay because he's proud of himself."

On Thursday, four days into the school year, Ms Pierce found her son dead at their home. She told KDVR bullying contributed to Jamel's death. 

"Four days is all it took at school. 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."

Crisis counsellors have been made available to students at Shoemaker Elementary School following Jamel's death.

A letter addressed to school parents says Jamel's death "is an unexpected loss for our school community" and warns parents to watch out for signs of stress in their children.

The Denver Police Department is investigating Jamel's death as a suicide.

Where to find help and support: 

Need to Talk? - Call or text 1737

Lifeline - 0800 543 354 or (09) 5222 999 within Auckland

Youthline - 0800 376 633, text 234, email or online chat

Samaritans - 0800 726 666

Depression Helpline - 0800 111 757

Suicide Crisis Helpline - 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)