Jamel Myles died by suicide after he was bullied upon coming out as gay, his mom Leia Pierce says. He was 9 years old. Myles was a student at Joe Shoemaker School in Colorado where he had just began in the fourth grade. Local media in Denver reported that Myles died on August 23 at around 11 p.m., three days after school came back in session following the summer break. He was rushed to Swedish Medical Center after he was found. The Denver’s medical examiner ruled that Jamel Myles cause of death was suicide that did not involve a gun. It has been reported that Myles died after hanging himself.
His mother told the Denver Post that her older daughter had told her that Myles’ classmates had told him to kill himself over his coming out.
If you, or anyone you know, is suffering from mental distress, please call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline on 1-800-273-8255. In addition, The Trevor Project provides support to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning young people. Their 24-hour hotline can be reached at 1-866-488-7386.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Jamel Myles’ Mother Says She Told Her Son, ‘I Still Love You,’ After he Came Out
Leia Pierce told KDVR in Denver that her son had come out to her during the summer. Piece told the station, “And 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.””
Speaking to the Denver Post, Pierce said that Myles had begun wearing fake fingernails. Pierce said, “My child died because of bullying. My baby killed himself. He didn’t deserve this. He wanted to make everybody happy even when he wasn’t. I want him back so bad… He was scared because he is a boy and it’s harder on boys when they come out. I smiled at him and said, “I still loved him.” The world is missing out.”
Pierce went on to say that it was her son’s goal was to become a YouTube star saying, “He said, ‘Mom, I want to be famous YouTube star so I could buy you a new house. He was the kindest soul.” Pierce said her son’s interests included Pokemon and wearing a dress and high-heeled shoes.”
2. Myles Mother Says She ‘Lost a Reason to Breathe’ After Her Son’s Suicide
On her Facebook page, Pierce wrote, “Please we are all the different and thats what makes us the same because we all have 1 thing in common we’re all difference thats what makes the world beautiful.. i want justice for my son and every kid who is bullied.. i want bullying to end i never want to hear someone else go thru this pain.”
Pierce added, “My son died because of being bullied please tell ur kids to love everyone we all need to love each other.” In a different post, Pierce said, “I lost a reason to breathe… my heart, my sunshine, my son… he was being bullied and i didnt know. Not till it was to late.. i wish i knew everything so i could’ve stopped this.” Just prior to the publication of this article, Myles’ mother posted on Facebook, “I cant sleep without my son.. we all always cuddle me and all my kids always pile on a bed and sleep no one ever sleeps in they own bed. We snuggle in a pack and i need my son back because its not the same..”
3. The Principal of Myles’ School Says the School Is Working to Ensure ‘LGBTQ+ Students Can Pursue Their Education With Dignity’
The Denver Channel reports that Joe Shoemaker Principal Christine Fleming told parents in a letter on August 24, “It is with extreme sadness we share with you that one of our fourth-grade students passed away yesterday. This is an unexpected loss for our community… Our thoughts are with the student’s family at this time. We will continue to process this sad news as a school community, and again, please feel free to reach out as needed for ongoing support… It is critical that our students receive all the support they need to learn and thrive in a safe and welcoming environment. Our formal policies and practices reflect this commitment to ensuring that our LGBTQ+ students can pursue their education with dignity – from policies and training to prevent and stop bullying to formal policies and guidance materials that fully respect gender identity (including use of preferred pronouns and restrooms).”
A Denver Public Schools spokesman Will Jones told the Denver Post, “It’s always tough when a little one takes his life. We have our crisis team there… Fourth and fifth grade teachers at Shoemaker are creating a space for students to share how they are feeling and to process their emotions after hearing this news. Teachers are also letting students know about the DPS crisis team members on hand to meet their social-emotional needs.”
4. Myles’ Suicide Has Provoked Outrage on Social Media
As news of Myles’ suicide has spread across the world, outraged people took to social media express their anger. Here are some of the most poignant and passionate responses:
The tragedy of Myles’ story also prompted a hateful response from the Westboro Baptist Church:
5. The Vast Majority of Pre Teens Who Commit Suicide Are Male
According to the Centers for Disease Control, a pre-teen, someone younger than 13, commits suicide once every five days. The same report says that from 1995 until 2015, 1,309 people between the ages of 5 and 12 died by suicide in the United States. The vast majority of those were boys. CNN reports that between 2013 and 2015, there was 54 percent spike in pre teen suicides compared to the previous three years. In November 2016, the CDC announced that there had been a rise in pre teen suicides. Journal pediatrics says that the number one factor for pre teen suicide in the U.S. are relationship problems. Another leading factor is mental health.