6th grader kills himself after being bullied

SOUTHAVEN, Miss (WATN) –  A Mississippi mom and dad are speaking out against bullying just days after they say their son committed suicide.

12-year-old Andy Leach hanged himself Tuesday. He was buried Friday. His parents Matthew Leach and Cheryl Hudson say Andy was bullied for months by classmates at Southaven Middle School where he was a 6th grader.

Although this is a devastating time for Andy’s mom and dad, they’re speaking out against bullying. They’re on a crusade to end it, hoping that other parents won’t have to bury their child.

Matthew Leach said, “Andy didn’t talk to us a lot about it after the bullying got worse. I intend to let his voice be heard now.”

“I am on a crusade that I plan to not stop,” said Andy’s mom, Cheryl Hudson.

Andy’s parents believe Andy had been bullied since school started last August.

“He began to question his faith, he began to question sexual orientation, he just had a lot of questions and confusion about things,” said Andy’s dad, Matthew.

Andy’s mom says once kids found out he was struggling, they began teasing him and calling him names.

“These kids are awful. They’re mean. They’re cruel,” said Cheryl.

Andy’s parents say they reported the bullying to school officials who intervened immediately.

“When we did go to the school and they did take action. The bullying got much worse. And those are the things we never heard,” said Matthew.

Andy dealt with bullying by taking his own life. His parents say that never should’ve happened. They want change so kids being bullied aren’t afraid to tell, and bullies are punished.

“There shouldn’t be a time when a parent has to pick out a gravestone for a young child,” cried Matthew.

Andy’s parents say they’re getting tons of support and plan to speak to lawmakers and lobby for stricter punishment for bullies. They say they plan to fight in Andy’s honor, until bullying stops.

A memorial is planned for Saturday from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at Trinity Baptist on Colonial Hills Dr. A candlelight vigil will be held at 8:00 p.m. along Rasco Road in front of Southaven Middle.

DeSoto County Schools released the following statement:

“All bullying reports are treated with the utmost importance.  Students and parents are encouraged to contact school officials anytime there are bullying concerns, and they can use a link on the DeSoto County Schools website if they would prefer to report bullying incidents anonymously.  All claims are investigated thoroughly, and school counselors are trained to help students and intervene when they are aware of a situation. Our hearts go out to this young student’s friends and family.”