Content warning: This article discusses suicide. If you or a loved one is struggling, support is available at Lifeline on 13 11 14.
Just weeks ago, Leia Pierce was in the car with her nine-year-old son when he became visibly anxious.
Jamel Myles, who started Year Four this month, had decided to tell his mother he was gay.
“He looked so scared when he told me,” Pierce told KDVR. “He was like, ‘Mum, I’m gay.’”
“I thought he was playing, so I looked back because I was driving, and he was all curled up, so scared. And I said, ‘I still love you.'”
During this conversation, Jamel also said he would rather dress like a girl than a boy.
Shortly after opening up to his mother, Jamel was due to return to school after his summer break. He told Pierce he was going to tell people about his sexuality because “he [was] proud of himself”.
Pierce believes bullying from Jamel’s peers contributed to his death.
According to Pierce, Jamel had shared with his older sister that “kids at school had told him to kill himself,” but he didn’t seek help from his mum.
“Four days is all it took at school,” she said. “I could just imagine what they said to him.”
“I’m so upset that he thought that was his option.”
Micah Scott, the CEO of Minus18, a support network for LGBTIQ youth Australia wide, says the most tragic part of the story of Jamel Myles is that his experience of bullying and isolation is “shared by LGBTIQ youth all over the world”.
Less than two years ago, a student from Queensland, Tyrone Unsworth, died by suicide after homophobic bullying.