Celebrities are mourning the death of Jamel Myles, a 9-year-old boy who died by suicide after he was reportedly bullied at school.
According to CBS News, Jamel was found dead at his Denver home Thursday, just months after he told his mother he was gay.
“(H)e looked so scared when he told me. He was like, ‘Mom, I’m gay,’” Leia Pierce recalls her son saying. “And 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.’”
Pierce said Jamel wanted to start dressing in a way that was typically more feminine, and couldn’t wait to come out to his classmates. Less that a week after he started the fourth grade at Joe Shoemaker Elementary, Pierce found Jamel had taken his own life.
“Four days is all it took at school. I could just imagine what they said to him,” Pierce said. “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.”
She continued: “We should have accountability for bullying ... I think the parent should be held [responsible] because obviously the parents are either teaching them to be like that, or they're treating them like that.”
Denver Public Schools addressed Jamel’s suicide in a letter sent to families last week. The district also said grief counselors would be available to meet with students and staff.
“At DPS, we are deeply committed to ensuring that all members of the school community are treated with dignity and respect, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or transgender status,” the district wrote in a statement. “It is critical that our students receive all the supports they need to learn and thrive in a safe and welcoming environment. Our formal policies and practices reflect this commitment to ensuring that our LGBTQ+ students can pursue their education with dignity — from policies and training to prevent and stop bullying to formal policies and guidance materials that fully respect gender identity (including use of preferred pronouns and restrooms).”
Actors, musicians, and other media figures reacted to Jamal’s death via Twitter this week. Celebrities like Kehlani, Laverne Cox, Ellen Page, and Pose executive producer Steven Canals expressed their grief, while also calling for more acceptance and tolerance.
You can check out some of the reactions below.
If you are having thoughts of suicide, confidential help is available at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255). You can also go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for a list of additional resources.