Childhood should always be a time in your life filled with joy, laughter, security and new experiences.
Sadly, for 12-year-old Andrew Leach it was anything but. His upbringing was pure hell.
On March 6, the young boy chose to end his personal nightmare in the most tragic way imaginable. He took his own life.
It was his big brother who found him, in their garage.
Andy was subjected to bullying, something that only worsened when he told his classmates that he might be bisexual.
His father, Matt, told WREG TV station that he believes the fact Andy was so open only made other kids pick on him more. His mother explains that he was called “fat, ugly and useless,” by other children at Southaven Middle School.
It went so far that Andy received death threats from other kids whilst in the school toilets.
“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,” his dad said, as per WREG.
The family complained to the school several times, but none of the teachers were able to stop the bullying from taking place. In the end, Andy, who was in the sixth grade, had enough.
Tuesday, March 6, the 12-year-old was found dead in his garage after hanging himself. His 16-year-old brother, also an apparent victim of bullying, was the one who found him.
Andy’s mother, Cheryl Hudson, says the son left a farewell letter to his family in which he revealed his plan to end his life.
Since his death, she has shared several heartbreaking stories about her son on Facebook. She writes, amongst other things, that Andy loved to cook.
– ‘Another story just came to mind. Andy loved to learn how to cook. He wasn’t always good at it but he loved it. I came home from work one day (this happened several times) and sitting on my nightstand would be something he made. Once, it was sliced potatoes that were dang near raw lol But he always thought about things he could do for me, help me with, he loved doing special things for me,’ Cheryl writes.
In another post, his mother shared this story:
– ‘I also remember each time I’d give him a bath. I’d get him out of the tub and stand him up on the toilet to dry him off. One night he said “Mommy, I don’t want to eat anymore.” I said “what?? Why baby?” And he said “if I eat I’ll get bigger. And then you won’t be able to hold me anymore.”
God I miss my baby so much.’
The fight against bullying
Together, Andy’s parents have spoken to the media following their son’s death. They want to use the tragedy to educate others over the dangers associated with bullying.
“I am on a crusade that I plan to not stop,” Cheryl told LocalMemphis.com.
Cheryl hopes that Andy’s death will not be in vain, and that more people will join the fight against bullying.
– ‘Please share!! We need people to attend this. If you’re child is being bullied, you need to be here. If you know children being bullied, you need to be here. If you have children growing up and beginning school, you need to be here. Let’s allow Andy’s Voice to make a difference!! Share this event and tag everyone you know!’ Cheryl writes on her Facebook.
Unfortunately, Andy’s story is not a stand-alone case.
Far too many children take their lives every year as a direct consequence of being bullied by piers.
In a statement relating to Andy’s case, DeSoto County School said: “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.”
Bullying is such a terrible thing. It breaks my heart every time I read about a case such as this, where the child in question has been pushed to their absolute limit.
Let Andy’s story serve as a reminder and wake up call. We all must do what we can to prevent bullying, wherever it is and whatever form is takes.
It can happen in the work place, at home, at school and online. Together, we must take a stand. Please share this story to spread the word and help Andy’s mom get her message out there.