Mom: 9-year-old boy killed himself after coming out as gay, being bullied at school

A Colorado mother says her son killed himself after being bullied at school.

Leia Pierce told KDVR that her 9-year-old son, Jamel Myles, came out to her as gay over the summer.

“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,'” Pierce said.

Myles also told his family he wanted to dress more femininely.

“And he goes, ‘Can I be honest with you?'” Pierce said. “And I was like, ‘Sure,’ and he’s like, ‘I know you buy me boy stuff because I’m a boy, but I’d rather dress like a girl.'”

He began fourth grade at Joe Shoemaker Elementary School in Denver last Monday. Pierce said her son wanted to tell his classmates that he was gay.

“He went to school and said he was gonna tell people he’s gay because he’s proud of himself,” she said.

Just four days after the first day of school, Jamel killed himself in his home, Pierce said. The Denver Police Department confirmed the death is being investigated as a suicide.

The boy’s mother believes bullying was a factor in his decision to end his life.

“Four days is all it took at school. I could just imagine what they said to him,” Pierce said. “My son told my oldest daughter the kids at school told him to kill himself. I’m just sad he didn’t come to me.”

A letter from Denver Public Schools to families said extra social workers and a crisis team will be made available to students. The district wrote that it will offer support to the family.

Pierce hopes to spread awareness about the effects of bullying.

“We should have accountability for bullying. I think the child should. Because the child knows it’s wrong. The child wouldn’t want someone to do it to them. I think the parent should be held because obviously the parents are either teaching them to be like that, or they’re treating them like that,” she said.

If you or anyone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts or depression:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-8255): Speak with someone who will provide free and confidential support 24 hours a day, seven days a week. To learn how to help someone in crisis, call the same number.

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