In a perfect world, Jamel Myles would still be alive.
The 9-year-old took his young life last Thursday after being taunted and bullied by student peers for being himself — for being gay. Days before returning to school after the summer break, young Myles revealed to his mother that he was gay and wanted to wear feminine clothing and be out about his sexual orientation at school.
Leia Price was supportive of her son’s decisions to be and do so. However, she now feels guilt for not being able to save him from harming himself. Price found her youngest child hanging in his bedroom and tried to revive with CPR, but it was too late.
The fourth grader is described by his mother as a “beautiful” and “magical,” warm-loving kid, who played dress up in a tiara and heels, but also “wanted to see everyone happy even when he wasn’t.” That he was lambasted for trying to realize happiness for himself — to the point of suicide — is confirmation that bullying tactics are well established and have horrifying effects.
Three months ago, Ja’shya Williams had had enough by the time she reached the rooftop of the East Harlem apartment building where she grew up. On May 24, she took an irreversible leap of fate. According to the NY Daily News, the 11-year-old daughter of actress Princess O’Garra, who stars in TIDAL’s Money & Violence, jumped from the 16-story building to her death, leaving her mother and loved ones behind to mourn.
Both Myles and Williams’ deaths punctuate a disturbing trend: children committing suicide as a means to escape their pain. A little known fact is black children are affected gravely. A 2015 Nationwide Children’s Hospital (NCH) study shows suicide among Black children between ages five and 11 doubled between 1993 and 2012, and the number of suicides steadily increase with age, a researcher conveyed to U.S. News. Researchers and epidemiologists cite the “likely exposure to violence and traumatic stress and “aggressive school discipline” as contributing factors of Black children’s suicidal tendencies. For Myles, Williams and others, the catalyst was bullying.
In Williams’ case, the fifth-grader was tormented at school and troubled beyond anyone’s belief. Allegedly, the school was aware of her circumstances, but in an Instagram post, Williams’ mother claims she was never informed. O’Garra’s comments alludes to the school not following protocol. Reportedly, Williams’ friends were aware of the bullying she endured, and that she was bothered by it; but perhaps they did not know to what extent. Eventually, the young girl shared her intentions with Snapchat users just before following through.