April 21, 2009
Another Child Suicide Blamed on Antigay Bullying
Family members of an 11-year-old boy who committed suicide in DeKalb County, Ga., on Thursday afternoon say that relentless bullying is to blame for their son's death, according to the Atlanta-Journal Constitution .
Jaheem Herrera, a fifth-grader at Dunaire Elementary School in the Atlanta area, hanged himself in his room after enduring extreme daily bullying that included antigay taunts. His 10-year-old sister discovered his body.
Herrera’s mother and stepfather say they were aware of the consistent bullying, although their son tried to hide the extent of it. His mother, Masika Bermudez, complained to the school, reports WSB-TV, and she talked with his best friend about the situation.
“He said, ‘Yes, ma’am. He told me that he’s tired of everybody always messing with him in school. He is tired of telling the teachers and the staff, and they never do anything about the problems. So the only way out is by killing himself,’” Bermudez told WSB-TV.
Jaheem was an excellent student who moved with his family to the Atlanta area last year from St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, said stepfather Norman Keene.
The suicide of Jaheem follows the death earlier this month of 11-year-old Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, a sixth-grader in Springfield, Mass., who hanged himself after reportedly enduring relentless antigay bullying.
In March, the parents of Eric Mohat -- a Mentor, Ohio, 17-year-old who shot and killed himself in 2007 following what his parents characterize as months of merciless antigay harassment -- filed a lawsuit against Mentor High School with the U.S. district court in the northern Ohio district; they're not seeking compensation for themselves, but rather an admission that Eric's death was a "bullycide," and they're asking that the school put in place an anti-bullying program to prevent future such tragedies.
Visit the sites below for more stories and books and donate to the suicide hotline. Most importantly, as a teacher/administrator, it is your job to stop bullies in your school. If you think there is something wrong with a student, assume there is and investigate. You never know the difference you can make just by simply asking a child if something is wrong, or how they are doing. Don't turn your head when you see bullying, Stop It!