Mother says 9-year-old son killed himself after homophobic bullying

Posted at 6:38 AM, Aug 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-27 14:28:56-04

DENVER (KDVR/CNN) – A Colorado mother says her 9-year-old son took his own life over bullying, just four days after telling his classmates he was gay.

Leia Pierce’s son, 9-year-old Jamel Myles, started fourth grade Aug. 20 at Denver's Joe Shoemaker School.

"He was my sunshine because he was my only son,” Pierce said. "I'm so upset that he thought that was his option."

Weeks before the start of school, he had the courage to tell his mom that he was gay.

"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 at him because I was driving, and he was all curled up, so scared. And I said, 'I still love you,'" Pierce said.

Pierce said Jamel told her he was going to tell his classmates that he was gay because he was proud of himself.

But on Thursday, Pierce found the 9-year-old dead in their Denver home. She says he killed himself after being bullied.

"Four days is all it took at school. I could just imagine what they said to him. 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," Pierce said.

Through her devastation, Pierce wants to spread awareness about the effects of bullying. She hopes no other parent has to go through this pain.

"We should have accountability for bullying. I think the child should because the child knows it's wrong, because 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," Pierce said.

A letter from Denver Public Schools to families says they’re providing extra social workers and their crisis team for students.

In a statement, the district says it will continue to offer support to Jamel's family.

Police are investigating the 9-year-old's death as a suicide.

Copyright 2018 KDVR, Leia Pierce via CNN. All rights reserved.