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9-year-old killed herself after bullies mocked her for having a white friend, mom says

McKenzie Adams, a 9-year-old from Demopolis, Alabama, killed herself after she was bullied by students at U.S. Jones Elementary School, her mom said, adding that kids made fun of her for having a white friend. She is seen here with her mother.
McKenzie Adams, a 9-year-old from Demopolis, Alabama, killed herself after she was bullied by students at U.S. Jones Elementary School, her mom said, adding that kids made fun of her for having a white friend. She is seen here with her mother. Screenshot from Facebook

Ever since the start of the school year, 9-year-old McKenzie Adams endured bullying from other students at her Alabama school.

Eddwina Harris, the girl’s aunt, told The Tuscaloosa News that the fourth-grader, who is black, was often targeted with racist insults because she drove to school every day with a white family. She attended U.S. Jones Elementary School in Demopolis, family says.

“She was being bullied the entire school year,” she told the newspaper, “with words such as ‘kill yourself,’ ‘you think you’re white because you ride with that white boy,’ ‘you ugly,’ ‘black b-tch,’ ‘just die.’”

Her mother, Jasmine Adams, says that taunting is likely why McKenzie killed herself on December 3, according to CBS42. The 9-year-old hanged herself inside her family’s home, police say, and the girl’s grandmother found her body.

“Part of it could have been because she rode to school with a white family,” Adams told CBS42. “And a lot of it was race — some of the student bullies would say to her, ‘Why you riding with white people? You’re black, you’re ugly. You should just die.’”

The Pine Hill Police Department mourned the passing of the “little sweet angel” in a Facebook post.

For Harris, it’s hard to understand the sudden death of her niece, who loved making funny videos with her cousins and dreamed of being a scientist, according to The Tuscaloosa News. Now, the woman is aiming to fight so other bullied children don’t feel helpless.

“God has blessed me to help others with my platform, and now it’s time to help. There are so many voiceless kids,” Harris said, according to The Tuscaloosa News. “God is opening great doors for justice for my niece.”

But Adams, who says her daughter warned school officials about the bullying multiple times, says she wishes more had been done.

“I just felt that our trust was in them that they would do the right thing,” Adams told CBS42. “It feels like to me it wasn’t done.”

Data from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that the suicide rate of U.S. children ages 5 to 14 has nearly tripled between 2007 and 2017.

About 75 percent of lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 24, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. But the average delay between onset and intervention is 8 to 10 years, meaning people could go years before getting help.

Among teenage girls, the suicide rate in the U.S. hit a 40-year high in 2015. And between 2007 and 2015, suicide rates for teenage boys and young men increased by over 30 percent and doubled among girls. According to the CDC, 5,900 kids and adults aged 10 to 24 died by suicide in 2015.

Last December, 13-year-old Rosalie Avila hanged herself in the bedroom of her family’s California home.

Bullies relentlessly called the California teen ‘ugly’ and made fun of her braces, her father Freddie Avila told ABC6. One bully posted a video on social media of Rosalie sitting by herself at school as she was taunted, NBC News reported.

Rosalie cut her wrists because of the bullying, her father said, and kept a list of people who bullied her in a diary.

That same diary would detail the teenager’s last words to her parents — and the world.

“Sorry, Mom and Dad. I love you,” she wrote in her diary, according to CBS Los Angeles. “Sorry, Mom, you’re gonna find me like this.”

And in August, a 9-year-old boy killed himself in his family’s Denver home after coming out as gay, his mom Leia Pierce told Fox31. Jamel Myles, a fourth-grader at Joe Shoemaker Elementary School, killed himself just four days into the new school year.

“Four days is all it took at school. I could just imagine what they said to him,” Pierce told Fox31. “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.”

Suicide is on the rise across the United States. It is more than a mental health condition — states and communities can adopt comprehensive strategies to prevent suicide.

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