DENVER -- Debbie Darrow’s 10-year-old son dreams of being a video game animator, a YouTube star and a child therapist.
His aspirations are fun to think about, but Darrow often worries he won’t get to do any of them.
“It’s no use to prepare him for a job some day or independence someday if he doesn’t make it through the school year,” she said.
Her son started fifth grade a little more than a week ago and is already having serious problems at school.
“I got a call from his school that he was making suicidal statements and actions,” Darrow said.
The boy is 10 years old.
“And probably the hardest thing for me about that was that it didn’t surprise me at all,” she said.
Her son has been struggling with suicidal thoughts since he was 9. Darrow said it started a few months after his stepfather died.
“He started to express that he wanted to die sometimes,” she said.
She said she alerted the teachers at his school and got her son therapists to help him through his emotions. Most of the time, she says he is a happy kid, but when he gets in a rage, he is unpredictable.
“There was a moment he was considering trying to find a knife to kill himself and kill me,” she said.
They now have to keep the knives in the kitchen locked up.
“Those are measures people take often with their teenagers or college students. But when you are taking those with 10-year-olds, it’s absolutely frightening,” Darrow said.
In addition to grieving the loss of a parent, she says her son is autistic and suffers from a traumatic brain injury that left him with a developmental delay.
“Intelligence-wise he’s as smart as any 10-year-old. But in terms of lots of things like the way he plays, the way he handles frustration, he’s more like a three or four-year-old,” she said.
Darrow admits her son is sometimes a bully at school. But she says he is bullied back and because of his issues, he can’t handle it.
“We can’t let kids think or teachers or parents say to kids well you deserved what happened to you. No kid deserves to be harmed whether it’s physically whether it’s verbally,” she said.
Every school district in Colorado is required to have anti-bullying policies in place. Darrow says her son’s school has stepped in to help, but the policies aren’t strong enough.
“If steps were taken to de-escalate the situation sooner or prevent the situation knowing my son and what triggers him a lot of trouble could have been avoided,” she said.
After the death of 9-year-old Jamal Myles, Darrow believes it’s time to open the conversation about bullying and youth suicide in hopes of preventing more kids from becoming a statistic.
“My heart was breaking for [Jamal’s] family for that community. But then it just also hit so hard because I’m worried that could be my kid,” she said.AlertMe