A grieving mother has shared a heartbreaking photograph of her 12-year-old son in his coffin, after he killed himself over being bullied for his sexuality.
Andrew Michael Leach was found hanged in his dad’s garage in Southaven, Mississippi, last week, by his 15-year-old brother.
A suicide note revealed that he took his own life after the bullying at Southaven Middle School intensified with his tormentors telling him he wouldn’t ‘make it out’ of a school bathroom.
Cheryl Hudosn, the grieving mother of Andrw Leach, has shared a heartbreaking photograph of her 12-year-old son in his coffin, after he killed himself over being bullied for his sexuality
The boy’s father Matt Leach told WREG that his son’s classmates had tormented him after he came out as bisexual.
‘He was struggling a lot internally with sexual orientation,’ he said. ‘He finally came out with the information at school that he thought he may be bisexual. I think that really amped up the bullying.’
Now his family have shared a photo of their son in his open casket in the hope it would encourage bullies to understand the effect it has on their victims.
Cheryl Hudson told Metro her son left ‘a few different [suicide] notes’ which showed he had ‘been thinking of this for quite some time.’
Cheryl Hudson (pictured with her son) said her son left ‘a few different [suicide] notes’ which showed he had ‘been thinking of this for quite some time’
‘I want them to know what they’ve done and how it affects other people,’ he wrote in one of the notes.
She said the sixth grader was teased by his bullies, who ramped up their abuse to physical threats.
Cheryl said she went into his school to speak with teachers but said she didn’t feel like the school did much about it.
‘The school that he went to has got an abundance of bullying. The kids can’t even go to the bathroom without fear,’ she added.
The parents are demanding to know if the school district’s zero-tolerance bullying policy was enforced.
‘From what we are hearing, there was a group of kids that would go around calling him fat, ugly and worthless,’ the grieving mother said.
Andrew Michael Leach, 12,committed suicide last Tuesday in Southaven, Mississippi
The 12-year-old boy had endured years of bullying from his classmates at school, family said
Asked if she’d ever approached school administrators about the bullying issue, Hudson told the station: ‘I only spoke with the school’s 6th grade principal. I didn’t know how to handle it. His dad did talk to a teacher one time.’
She said it was not the first such instance at the school.
‘A few years ago there was a young girl who hung herself from a water tower due to bullying,’ she said. ‘There have been several attempts since then with other kids.’
School officials told WREG bullying allegations were treated with ‘utmost importance,’ but did go into details about Andrew’s case.
The alleged bullies are being investigated by police.
Cherlyn has paid tribute to her son who she described as ‘a sweet natured, fun loving kid who was easily a Momma’s boy.’
‘He was only 12 when he took his own life. I, as a mother, am absolutely crushed. I say I’ve cried all I can cry, but then moments later, I break down again.
‘I don’t think I’ll ever get over this.’
‘I’m heartbroken, I’m heartbroken,’ she added. ‘My ex-husband, my friends and I are not going to stop with the anti-bullying. ‘We are going to make sure that Andy’s voice is heard, and his death is not in vain.’
A memorial display for Andrew is seen at his funeral over the weekend
Family and friends gathered to mourn as the Mississippi boy was buried over the weekend
Matt Leach said parents should keep an eye out for changes in their children in case they are being bullied, including eating or sleeping patterns, and talk to them.
His mom admits she never saw the pain her son was struggling with everyday.
‘I guess I was just oblivious to it,’ Hudson said. ‘He just always seemed happy.’
A GoFundMe campaign set up in Andrew’s memory had raised more than $11,400.
‘He will be missed deeply by all that knew and loved him,’ the website reads.
‘No words could come close to expressing what this family is enduring.’
Between one quarter and one third of US students say they have been victims of bullying.
Suicide is the third leading cause of death for Americans ages 10 to 14, and the second leading cause among those 15 to 24.
For confidential support call the National Suicide Prevention Line: 1-800-273-8255
For confidential support in Australia call the Lifeline 24-hour crisis support on 13 11 14.