You’ve likely read about the tragedy of Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, an 11-year-old boy who committed suicide after being relentlessly bullied at school with homophobic taunts.
But now, to make matters even worse in the only way they could possibly get worse, a second 11-year-old boy has also committed suicide (h/t). Jaheem Herrera, too, hanged himself after being bullied at school. Seemingly, the taunts were also homophobic in nature.
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.
I don’t know what to say to this. There are few things to say. The parallels between these two stories are so many that it’s frankly eerie, and absolutely stomach-churning. And clearly, we need to wake the fuck up.
We need to have broad conversations about bullying in schools and homophobia in our society, and we need to have specific conversations about the homophobic nature of many kinds of bullying. And we need to do more than just talk about it, we need to make sure that things change. Schools need to be held accountable and forced to take action against bullying, and they need to find ways to prevent it in the first place. Right now. Before even more children see no other way out other than to take their own lives.