Most cases of wrongful death involving children are tragic, easily preventable, but not malicious. A child getting hit by a car because the driver was texting rather than paying attention to the road is one example. A homeowner not minding the swimming pool, only to find a toddler has fallen in and drowned is another tragic example.
But then there are cases where it is a complex mix of intent and negligence from all the wrong places, and death by suicide, as a result of bullying, is one of those horrible examples.
The Wrong Message
On August 23rd, in Denver, Colorado, nine year old Jamel Myles was found dead by his mother, and the post-mortem examination of his body ruled it as death by suicide. He had come to the conclusion that he was gay, and after the sharing the information with his mother, decided to be open about it as the new school year started on August 20th. Three days later, after constant harassment and jeers to kill himself by other students, he followed through and committed suicide. The Denver Public School board is now issuing intense, emergency counseling services to the Joel Shoemaker Elementary School that Jamel Myles attended.
Not A Criminal Act
Obviously, because this was an act of suicide, and because there are minors involved, there isn’t going to be a criminal trial, nor will there be children handed out jail sentences and forced to serve time in prison. The very young age of the children—under 10—means that there’s still a debatable question about just how much they understood the ramifications of taunting someone non-stop, let alone encouraging suicide.
However, this does not mean that the tragic loss of life should go unanswered or unpunished. There will obviously need to be an investigation, and answers will be required as to exactly how the circumstances played out that led to this death. Were the teachers aware of just how much harassment and bullying was going on? Did the parents of the bullies, upon hearing of Jamel Myles sexual orientation, encourage their own children to intensify the bullying? Were the parents even aware, or was this a decision that was 100% carried out by the children alone, and if so, how did the parents not know?
For people in Florida that have experienced the death of a child through someone else’s non-criminal actions, circumstances are everything. When you’re ready, talk to a wrongful death attorney about your loss, and see whether you can get the resolution you deserve..