A Kentucky family is mourning the death of their 10-year-old boy who took his own life after being repeatedly bullied at school for wearing a colostomy bag
The child, Seven Bridges, hanged himself in a closet at his family’s home in Louisville on Saturday while his mother was out grocery shopping, local station WHAS-TV reported.
“I saw my son dead,” his mother, Tami Charles, told the news station.
“That’s something in my head.”
Seven had to struggle with bullies while on a bus ride to Kerrick Elementary School, where he was repeatedly tormented because of a bowel condition.
According to his family, Seven was born with a medical defect that required him to undergo more than 26 surgeries and use a colostomy bag. A colostomy bag collects waste from a portion of the colon outside the body and due to the smell from the condition, the boy had to endure months of repeated bullying, his mother said.
This got so severe that his parents decided to transfer him to another school next year.
“We would talk to him about having new friends and a new start,” his mother, Charles said. “He just had to get to the end of the year.”
Charles believed that the Jefferson County Public Schools should have done more to prevent the tragedy, adding that the family plans to take legal action.
“We found that the school system had a lot of holes and a lot of inconsistencies with their policies about bullying,” Charles told WLKY News.
“They stood on the verbal message, the lip service of zero tolerance, but they did not deliver.”
Meanwhile, officials of the school have vowed to investigate the reports of bullying, a local station, WDRB-TV reported
This is one of the many incidents of black children taking their own lives due to factors such as bullying. A nine-year-old girl, Maddison “Maddie” Whittsett was, in November 2018, found dead in her closet after intentionally hanging herself.
In January of that year, 9-year-old A’layah Weatherspoon was found hanging from her brand new bunk-bed with a leather belt around her neck. She died two days later.
An 8-year-old, Imani McCray, also hanged herself in her New Jersey home and weeks before that, an 11-year-old, Rylan Thai Hagan, hanged himself from the bunk bed in his family’s Washington, D.C., home.
The names of black girls and boys who have taken their own lives have made headlines in recent years. Suicide rates for children ages 5 to 12 are roughly twice as high for black children as for white children, according to new data.
Reported suicide rates tend to be higher for white Americans, particularly among white males, than they are for black Americans. But the numbers are different when it comes to black children. The suicide rate for black youths is almost double what it was in the early 1990s, according to the American Medical Association.
Suicide rates for black boys increased 95 per cent over a two-decade span, according to the study. In 2016 alone, at least 48 black children between the ages of 6 and 14 took their own lives.
Factors such as bullying or family instability can contribute to mental health challenges in children, as well as other biological issues such as a family history of mental health disorders. But for black children, studies say that race-based harassment also had a negative impact on the mental wellbeing of Black children and should not be overlooked.
The American Psychological Association (APA) advises parents to look for warning signs such as changes in behaviour or personality, communication of an eagerness for death, changes in sleep patterns and eating habits, fear of losing control, among others.