Suicide rates among our youth are rapidly on the rise. As of 2017, suicide is the second leading cause of death in children and young adults from 5 to 24-years-old, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
Much of this can be attributed to social pressures and bullying at school.
Tragically, a sweet 10-year-old named Kevin Reese Jr. recently became one of those statistics.
The Houston, Texas boy was found hanging in his closet by his 13-year-old sister after they got home from school one day in January. Kevin’s mother, Crystal Smith, was out of town on a work trip and his stepdad was on the way home at the time.
“She was just screaming on the phone and I didn’t understand and she screamed ‘Kevin,'” Crystal recalled of the traumatizing event. “He hung himself in his closet. I told her to hang up with me and cut him down, and while you’re cutting him down call 911.'”
Sadly, efforts to revive Kevin came too late.
“Everything was not real,” said Crystal. “I was in a place where I just couldn’t move.”
According to the heartbroken mother, Kevin’s suicide was the result of enduring relentless bullying at school.
Along with beating her son up, she claimed the bullies wrote cruel messages on his tablet [such as] “Kill yourself, you don’t belong here.”
“When it got physical back in November, he came home crying because he didn’t fight back,” Crystal shared. “And one of the boys punched him several times coming from recess.”
Two months after the physical abuse started, she said Kevin felt “backed into a corner” and had “just had enough.”
And on January 21, he took his life.
Crystal thought he “was handling the situations,” but it got far darker in her 10-year-old’s mind than she thought possible. She never considered he would take it this far. Outside of the torment at school, he was an overall happy child.
“Kevin was a goofy child,” she said. “He’s my little goof troop, I called him.”
The school district where Kevin attended said that no “allegations or evidence of bullying” was reported to them or their anonymous reporting system, Cy-Fair Tipline.
But Crystal argued that she did, in fact, contact an official at the school, who had left a voicemail in response saying they had investigated the incident after Kevin was punched.
“They told me they never found any bullying going on,” said Crystal, disheartened that more was not done by the school to protect her boy.
The district changed their story once evidence of the voicemail surfaced, and then they said that an official spoke to Crystal about the issue.
According to the official, the bully denied a “physical fight” had ever taken place.
The person who sent the voicemail is not at Robinson Elementary any longer but has been assigned to a different position within the school district.
In hopes of finding answers, Crystal has not touched anything in Kevin’s room since he died. Even his homework from that haunting day is still sitting where he left it on his bed.
“I just want to find the answer, what happened that day, what was going through his mind?” she said.
The grief-stricken mother prays that by using her voice, she can help warn other parents and save children like Kevin.
She begs them to hear Kevin’s story and her message:
“Pay attention to your child, don’t assume that things are handled at the school. Stay on top of it until you see something come out on the end.”
If you or someone you know is thinking about harming yourself/themselves or attempting suicide, reach out to someone who can help right away. Call the toll-free, 24-hour hotline of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK to be connected to a trained counselor at a suicide crisis center nearest you.