Birmingham 9-Year-Old Believed To Have Killed Herself Because Of Bullying
The family found Madison “Maddie” Whittsett after she intentionally hung herself in the closet.
November 16, 2018 at 5:44 pm
Another Black child has lost their life to suicide. The family of Madison "Maddie" Whittsett, of Birmingham, Alabama, found the 9-year-old in her closet after intentionally hanging herself.
Whittsett was pronounced dead at Children's of Alabama on Monday, according to AL.com.
As Yahoo reports, Whittsett had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and was the subject of her peers' name-calling, which often centered around the words "stupid" and "dumb."
“She just wanted to be your friend. She wanted to be everybody’s friend and wanted everyone to be happy,’’ Jimmie Williams said of his stepdaughter. “We saw that in everything she did.”
He and Whittsett's mother, Eugenia Williams, hope to find a way to use Whittsett's brief life to help others who are suffering.
“We don’t want this to happen to anyone else,’’ Jimmie Williams said, advising other parents to carefully monitor what is going on in their children's lives. “Maybe you can see if anything is going on. Look for changes in attitude. Changes in behavior. Support them and be there for them.”
On the day of Whittsett's suicide, Mrs. Williams and her daughter were planning to go on a mother-daughter bonding trip to Chick-fil-A (Whittsett's favorite restaurant) when she found her unresponsive body. She immediately had a friend call 911 while she performed CPR. Whittsett was transported to St. Vincent's East and was later taken to Children's, where she remained on life support until Monday.
“Our school community is deeply saddened by the recent passing of a student," Whittsett's school said in a statement. "The death of any young person is a tragic loss that impacts the whole school community, and we send our deepest condolences to the family.”
The Williams family said they'd believed their daughter's troubles at school to have been solved. However, after her passing, they found that was not the case.
"We talked to one of her friends, and Maddie had apparently had a bad day," Mr. Williams said. "The friend said Maddie was bullied, and she looked sad while she was being bullied. It must have really worn her out that day.”
The 9-year-old's parents also believe a change in medication may have led to her having dark thoughts.
"The bullying plus the medicine, I think, gave her the boost to do that," Mr. Williams said.
As Blavity has reported, the suicide rate among Black children requires special attention: according to a 2015 study, Black children are more than three times more likely than white children to commit suicide. The study's authors found bullying, particularly race-based harassment, had a severe, negative impact on the mental wellbeing of Black children as did other types of racial trauma.
The American Psychological Association (APA) advises parents to look for warning signs such as changes in behavior or personality, communication of an eagerness for death, changes in sleep patterns, fear of losing control and changes in eating habits, among other things.
For information on child suicide prevention, please visit Suicide Prevention Lifeline or call 1 (800) 273-8255.
Rest in peace, Maddie.
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