Seven Bridges is a 10-year-old Kentucky boy who killed himself after he was bullied in school, his mother told NBC News.
Bridges, a 5th grader at Kerrick Elementary School in Louisville, was found hanging in his closet by his mother on Saturday.
She attempted to revive him but was unsuccessful.
His mother, Tami Charles, blamed bullying that her son endured over a colostomy bag he had to wear due to a birth defect.
“My son took his life due to bullying, it has been probably ongoing for about seven months, horribly,” she said, according to NBC. “He would have little things as he went through school, but nothing as bad as this year.”
Seven’s death is the eighth student suicide in Jefferson County Public Schools this school year. Jefferson County Public Schools have more than 95,000 students between kindergarten and 12th grade.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Seven Bridges Was Found Hanging in His Closet by His Mother
Tami Charles told WDRB that she found her son hanging in his closet when she came home from grocery shopping at around 10:30 am Saturday.
Seven was born with a bowel condition. Doctors performed 26 surgeries on the child but were unsuccessful in fixing the issue.
Charles and Seven’s dad Donnie Bridges told WDRB that their son had to wear a colostomy bag due to his condition, which children at the school bullied him over.
“But he would still leak little fecal matter, and of course it would smell, so he was bullied for that,” Charles told NBC.
2. Seven Bridges’ Mother Says He Was Bullied Over Colostomy Bag
“My son took his life due to bullying, it has been probably ongoing for about seven months, horribly,” Charles told reporters Wednesday. “He would have little things as he went through school, but nothing as bad as this year.”
Charles told WDRB that Seven was repeatedly bullied and, in August, was violently attacked.
Charles said Seven was called a racial slur while riding the school bus and choked until he nearly lost consciousness.
His mother said he complained of dizziness afterward and had to be taken to the hospital for a CT scan.
The school district opened an investigation after the mother reported the incident but it’s unclear if the student who attacked Seven was disciplined.
“We can’t get into student discipline at this time, and again, we’re going to be reviewing everything to see how we handled things on our end,” Jefferson County Public Schools spokeswoman Renee Murphy told WDRB.
3. Seven Died Before Starting New School
Donnie Bridges told WDRB that Seven was set to attend W.E.B. DuBois Academy when he entered middle school in the fall, where he hoped his son could start anew.
“Seven knew the Lord,” Bridges said. “He knew right from wrong. We instilled that in him at a young age. He went to church.”
“He couldn’t fight back,” Charles added. “He didn’t know how to hurt you. He had no malice, none, and I’m just looking at him like, ‘Are you even my child?’ Because I would’ve gave that little kid a two-piece and a biscuit.
“But he didn’t have that in him. All he did was pray for the boy.”
Charles said her son seemed depressed in the weeks leading up to the suicide after he was labeled a “snitch” after his mom reported the choking incident.
“Because I was so aggressive in advocating for him, they started to act differently toward him,” Charles said.
4. Seven’s Suicide is The 8th by a Jefferson County Student This School Year
Murphy told NBC News that Seven’s suicide is the eight student suicide death in Jefferson County Public Schools in the 2018-19 school year. During the 2017-18 school year, the district saw three student suicides.
“That is definitely an alarming number. We’re seeing several younger students getting into 10, 11, 12 years old that see that as an option for whatever issues they’re facing,” Patti Clark, who manages suicide prevention efforts for the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, told NBC. “That’s very alarming to us to think that’s where we’re going.”
“We have not determined that this is a cluster because we’re not finding a connection other than they were in the same school district,” she added. “I would probably not say this is a district issue, it’s a much broader issue.”
5. Seven Bridges’ Parents Say They Plan to File Lawsuit Over Son’s Death
Charles and Bridges said they “absolutely” plan to take legal action against the school district.
“JCPS: You all failed my baby,” Charles said in an interview with WDRB.
Murphy said the school district plans to “launch a full investigation” into the matter.
“We are devastated by this,” Murphy said. “Our hearts are breaking for this family. The school community is hurting right now.”
Though Charles blames the school, she said she believed her son thought that suicide was only way to “have some control over his own peace.”
“I’m actually proud of him to finally say, `I won’t live in this torment anymore,’ ” she said. “We taught him there’s nothing you could ever do that could make God love you less, nothing that could tear you away from the love of God.”
Seven’s family has set up a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for his funeral expenses and to “support Tami in finding justice and resolve for the death of her only child.”