DENVER, Colo. - Nearly one month after 9-year-old Jamel Myles took his life, his mother’s heartbreak still keeps her up at night.
“If it wasn’t for bullying, a lot of suicides wouldn’t happen,” said Jamel’s mom, Leia Pierce, told KDVR. She says her son was confident in his own identity, coming out to her as gay weeks before school started.
“He loved to dress himself. Like, he didn’t care if he was mismatch,” Pierce said. “He didn’t care. He felt comfortable in it. He was himself, so, I was proud of him.”
That spirit of bravery and sense of self has resonated with many in the Denver community. Saturday night, people came together to celebrate Jamel's memory by throwing a fashion show. Models took to the runway, selling out tables and raffling off prizes to raise money for the family.
“I think what they’re doing for my son is a beautiful thing,” Pierce said. “He loved dressing up.”
Pierce has been thinking about starting a charity in her son’s name. She hopes to spread a message of acceptance and anti-bullying.
“It’s going to be used for what my son wanted to do, and that is to help people, to touch hearts, to spread love and kindness,” Pierce said.
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.
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.