9-year-old’s suicide calls for us to change our words


A set of acrylic fingernails would be his first step to revealing who he actually was.

To his mom, he was still a baby boy.

To his teachers, just another student.

And to his classmates, he would end up being “the gay boy.”

Remarks like this, and many others that I am not comfortable saying, are the reason nine-year-old Jamel Myles commited suicide last Thursday in Denver. Before the first week of school even got out. The first week of, what would have been, fourth grade.

The Denver City Coroner’s office confirmed on Monday by that Jamel commited suicide by hanging himself.

“My child died because of bullying. My baby killed himself,” his mother, Leia Pierce, said to CNN. His mom who will never be able to hold her baby boy again.

The question is, will Jamel’s story just fall into a category? Will Jamel just become another victim, another statistic? Another part of the percentage of kids under the age of ten who commit suicide? Yeah, that is a statistic now, one every five days according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

I could write for days about how suicide could be prevented. I could tell you statistics, I could quote professionals, I could give phone numbers.

But what about starting with the simple things you are told when you are small.

The things that, apparently, you lose growing up.

Statements like, “Be kind to one another.”


“Treat others like you want to be treated.”

There is one phrase my mom would always repeat to my siblings and me growing up.

“Think before you speak. You may have nothing to say.”

As a kid, I didn’t understand. How could waiting a couple seconds change my opinion? But now, this is a statement I have adopted to live by throughout my first years at Monarch.

The years where I have stood in the stands at football games, the years where I have walked in the hallways during passing periods.

The years where I have overheard the kind of remarks that will make your stomach drop, some of those being said by people who I call my friends.

Little comments like these take big stabs at my heart, and even bigger ones at kids like Jamel.

Jamel’s heart that had all the love in the world to give.

That is what saddens me the most.

Who was given the power to tell this nine-year-old who he can and can not love?

Who said someone else could control who Jamel would give his love to?

Why is it that people are more comfortable with two men holding guns rather than holding hands?

Why can’t we just love with everything we have and everything we are?

Why can’t that be enough?

What I think it takes so long to understand is love can be enough.

If we work towards a better future and a more positive perspective, we work towards a world where everyone can give their love to whomever they want to.

I understand change takes time.

I understand I can’t change everyone’s perspective overnight.

But if I can make someone take an extra second before they speak, it’s all worth it.

Because maybe, just maybe, with that extra second, Jamel Myles would still be here.

Wrapped in his mom’s arms.

Giving her all the love in the world, until the world is ready for him to give his love to someone else.


Photo from NBC News, courtesy of Leia Pierce