Andrew Leach, a 12-year-old Mississippi boy who died by suicide after being bullied, was remembered as a “very loving boy” whose smile was contagious. His parents have now launched an anti-bullying campaign.
Andrew is one of a series of American youths who took their own lives after bullying, some of it exacerbated by social media. Andrew Leach attended Southaven Middle School in Southaven, Mississippi. Some of the bullying that Andrew – called Andy – received was due to his sexual orientation, his father told WREG-TV.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Andrew Leach Was Bullied in School After Revealing He Might Be Bisexual, His Father Says
Tragically, the bullying escalated against Andy Leach after he told classmates that he might be bisexual, his father told WREG in an interview. Andy was teased and called names, his parents say.
His mother says he was called “fat, ugly, and worthless” by other kids.
“He was struggling a lot internally with sexual orientation,” Matt Leach told the television station. “He finally came out with the information at school that he thought he may be bisexual. I think that really amped up the bullying.”
The father described the bullying to the TV station, saying, “Kids were telling him, ‘We’re gonna put hands on you. You’re not going to make it out of this bathroom.’ Things of that nature.”
Andy’s mother Cheryl remembered the child as her “diamond.”
“Another story… went out for a little while one night to a movie. When I got home, he was asleep on my bed. He had his suitcase packed and it was sitting in my closet. I asked him why, and he said ‘I’m moving into your room with you Mommy!’ This child was my light. My sunshine. My diamond. ???” she wrote in a heart-wrenching post on Facebook.
2. Andy Was Remembered as a Fun & Loving Little Boy
A GoFundMe campaign to help Andy’s family has raised more than $10,000. The page says “our hearts are saddened as Andy has went to be with the Lord this evening. Andy was a fun loving, outgoing 12 year old little boy.”
The statement on the GoFundMe page adds that Andrew “will be missed deeply by all that knew and loved him. No words could come close to expressing what this family is enduring. I hope to raise funds to help with his final expenses. All money will go for arrangements and to help his family in the days ahead. If you can’t contribute monetarily I ask that you pray for his mom, dad, brothers, family & friends. I ask that you kiss your kids and hug them a bit tighter. We never know when God may need them back. Please feel free to share the campaign and Thank You all for the love and support as we struggle to find peace in the days ahead. God Bless.”
Andy’s mother has shared a series of heartbreaking stories about her son on Facebook. In one, she wrote that he loved to learn how to cook. “Another story just came to mind. Andy loved to learn how to cook. He wasn’t always good at it but he loved it. I came home from work one day (this happened several times) and sitting on my nightstand would be something he made. Once, it was sliced potatoes that were dang near raw lol But he always thought about things he could do for me, help me with, he loved doing special things for me,” she wrote.
“He once made eggs …and the whole box of salt had been dumped in them I think…Andy was so proud. He just cooked pancakes last week and did a perfect job with them. It’s these little things that break my heart. His nature was so sweet, sarcastic, hilarious… I miss him soooo much. From the day he was born, I’d sing Angel to him. Even when he was 8 or 9 years old, if he was having a bad day, I’d sing that to him and he would always cheer up. I wanted to sing it at his service but there was just no way. ?”
In another post, she shared this story: “I also remember each time I’d give him a bath. I’d get him out of the tub and stand him up on the toilet to dry him off. One night he said ‘Mommy, I don’t want to eat anymore.’ I said ‘what?? Why baby?’ And he said ‘if I eat I’ll get bigger. And then you won’t be able to hold me anymore.’ God I miss my baby so much.”
3. Andy’s Family Has Launched a Crusade to Stop Bullying
Andrew’s parents – father Matt and mother Cheryl – have spoken out in the media after their son’s death. They want to use the tragedy to educate others about the dangers of bullying.
“I am on a crusade that I plan to not stop,” said Andy’s mom, Cheryl Hudson, told LocalMemphis.com.
Andy’s father said that school officials intervened at the request of the parents after Andy was bullied, but the bullying didn’t stop. “There shouldn’t be a time when a parent has to pick out a gravestone for a young child,” Matthew told the news station.
4. Andrew Leach Hanged Himself in His Family’s Garage
Horrifically, Andrew took his own life by hanging himself in the family garage. He left behind notes. He was only in the 6th grade.
Andy’s 16-year-old brother found his body.
In a statement Desoto County Schools said, “All bullying reports are treated with the utmost importance. Students and parents are encouraged to contact school officials anytime there are bullying concerns, and they can use a link on the DeSoto County Schools website if they would prefer to report bullying incidents anonymously. All claims are investigated thoroughly, and school counselors are trained to help students and intervene when they are aware of a situation. Our hearts go out to this young student’s friends and family.”
5. Other Children in the U.S. & Canada Have Also Committed Suicide Due to Bullying
Mallory Grossman was a beautiful 12-year-old girl from New Jersey with a memorable smile who loved cheerleading and once made jewelry to help children with cancer. She also was allegedly being bullied on Snapchat and other platforms, according to News 4. The same day her mother complained about the alleged bullying to the school, Mallory died suddenly, according to NBC New York. Her family has now revealed that she died by suicide.
Rosalie Avila, a 13-year-old girl from California, also died by suicide after being bullied.
In Canada, Jolynn Winter, Chantel Fox and Jenera Roundsky, all 12, committed suicide since January 2017 in what was a possible suicide pact in Wapekeka, an aboriginal community. In 2016, Katelyn Nicole Davis, of Polk County, Ga., streamed her suicide on social media. She was also 12. Gabriel Taye, an 8-year-old Ohio boy, also died by suicide after being bullied.
A Pennsylvania family has written an emotional, heart-wrenching obituary for Sadie Riggs, a 15-year-old girl who hung herself after being tormented by bullies. Sadie was from Bedford, Pennsylvania, and her family decided to make a statement against bullies in the heartbreaking obit.
Her death is highlighting the growing concerns of bullying among young people in a social media driven society, and family members hope Sadie’s suicide will start a movement against bullying. Wrote one woman on Facebook after reading the widely shared obit: “Didn’t know Sadie, but after reading her obituary I have tears in my eyes. Her life mattered. We must cause change! We must treat others with kindness. We must teach our children that our words matter. This philosophy is so simple, yet as a society we are obviously failing.”
In California, a 10-year-old died by suicide after a video of her fighting with classmates went viral on the app Musical.ly. Ashawnty Davis was on life support for two weeks after her family found her hanging inside of her closet.