The parents of a 12-year-old Mississippi boy say he killed himself last week after being subjected to intense bullying.
Andrew Leach of Southaven, Mississippi, was found dead at his family’s home March 6. Leach’s parents believe the sixth-grader had been struggling to come to terms with his sexuality, and killed himself after being bullied by fellow students at Southaven Middle School.
“He finally came out with the information at school that he thought he may be bisexual,” Matt Leach told WREG. “I think that really amped up the bullying.”
Leach said Southaven Middle School students had threatened his son with physical violence. “Kids were telling him, ‘We’re gonna put hands on you. You’re not going to make it out of this bathroom.’ Things of that nature,” he said.
Andrew Leach’s mother, Cheryl Hudson, said she had spoken to school administrators about the bullying her son was experiencing, but that she “didn’t know how to handle it.”
“From what we are hearing, there was a group of kids that would go around calling him fat, ugly and worthless,” Hudson told WREG. In a separate interview with Local Memphis, she added, “These kids are awful. They’re mean. They’re cruel.”
DeSoto County Schools, Leach’s district, released a statement in response to the student’s death:
All bullying reports are treated with the utmost importance. Students and parents are encouraged to contact school officials anytime there are bullying concerns, and they can use a link on the DeSoto County Schools website if they would prefer to report bullying incidents anonymously.
All claims are investigated thoroughly, and school counselors are trained to help students and intervene when they are aware of a situation. Our hearts go out to this young student’s friends and family.
If you or someone you know needs help, call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also text HELLO to 741-741 for free, 24-hour support from the Crisis Text Line. Outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of resources.
- This article originally appeared on HuffPost.