On Wednesday a Detroit family experienced a horror not many could imagine. A 7-year-old boy was found hanging from a bunk bed with a belt around his neck after his 14-year-old sister peeped through the keyhole of his locked bedroom door.
It’s nearly unfathomable to think that a first grader could be so troubled he’d want to take his own life but according to a police report, the mother said her son “had been depressed due to her recent separation from his father; the fact that he had been bullied continuously by the children at school, in addition to constant teasing he had endured because he was the only boy in the home of eight females.”
Administrators at Mark Murray Elementary where the boy, whose name is not being released, attended school say no harassment was ever brought to their attention. According to a statement by Geneva Williams, interim CEO of the University Preparatory Academy and University Preparatory Science and Math school districts:
“To the best of our knowledge, after careful review with the principal, teachers and counselors, there was never any mention of bullying by the student’s mother, who was an active volunteer at the school. The student was in a very caring and nurturing environment.”
It’s not clear whether the mother did bring her son’s bullying to the attention of the school, but she had alerted her pastor. Ironically she was on her way to talk to him about her son’s depression on Wednesday around 4pm, which is the last time she saw her son alive. On Tuesday, neighbor Harold Pleasant had helped the mother start her car before taking her son to an afternoon doctor’s appointment. He said he asked the boy how he was doing in school and he replied, “I’m doing fine.”
In December, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed anti-bullying legislation that makes it a misdemeanor to bully children in person or online. Detroit City Councilwoman Saunteel Jenkins, who sponsored the ordinance, said this boy’s suicide is an example of why strong punishment for bullying is needed.
“For a 7-year-old to lose his life in any form is heartbreaking. But to imagine a child that young, who is so sad, that believes his only option is to do this? Heartbreaking is not a strong enough word,” she said.
Detroit police are still investigating what could have led up to this tragedy and the boy’s elementary school is said to be cooperating so that more light can be shed on this sad case.