Mom of Denver boy who killed himself after being bullied faces backlash online

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DENVER — The mother of a Denver boy who killed himself after coming out as gay and being bullied is being harassed online.

Leia Pierce says her 9-year-old son, Jamel Myles, had just started fourth grade at Joe Shoemaker Elementary School in the Hampden neighborhood when he took his own life.

Over the summer, Pierce said her son had come out to her as gay.

“And he looked so scared when he told me. He was like, ‘Mom, I’m gay.’ 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 Myles

“My son knew who he was. He found himself and I was proud of him,” said Pierce.

The mother said she has received tremendous support from people around the world.

“It makes me feel better. It makes me feel like my son’s word of love is getting out,” said Pierce.

However, Pierce’s inboxes and mentions have also been filled with hateful messages.

“The negativity that I’ve seen on social media — the derogatory comments toward my son or myself — it just proves my point that there is so much hate in this world, that there is so much bullying,” she said.

Pierce said that she refuses to reciprocate the hate, instead promoting a positive message.

She added some people have even come out to her via social media, saying her son’s story gave them courage.

Suicide resources

If you or anyone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts or depression, the following resources are available:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-8255): Speak with someone who will provide free and confidential support 24 hours a day, seven days a week. To learn how to help someone in crisis, call the same number.

Colorado Crisis Services Hotline (1-844-493-8255): If you are in crisis or need help dealing with one, call 1-844-493-8255 or text “TALK” to 38255 to speak to a trained professional. When calling Colorado Crisis Services, you will be connected to a crisis counselor or trained professional with a master’s or doctoral degree.

The Trevor Project (1-866-488-7386): A 24/7 resource for LGBT youth struggling with a crisis or suicidal thoughts. The line is staffed by trained counselors.

Colorado Crisis Services Walk-In Locations: Walk-in crisis service centers are open 24/7, and offer confidential, in-person crisis support, information and referrals to anyone in need.

Colorado Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline: (1-844-264-5437): The best resource for readers to report suspected child abuse and neglect.

The number serves as a direct, immediate and efficient route to all Colorado’s 64 counties and two tribal nations, which are responsible for accepting and responding to child abuse and neglect concerns. All callers are able to speak with a call-taker 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

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