Bullying | Education | GLSEN | News

Anti-Gay Bullying Leads to Suicide of Massachusetts Student


Last Friday I mentioned Eric Mohat, the late Ohio high school student whose parents are suing the school for its complicity in bullying they say led to the suicide of their son.

Now comes news of another similar, horrifying suicide also brought on by anti-gay bullying:

"Two days after the worst day of her life, when she found her 11-year-old son had committed suicide by hanging himself, Sirdeaner L. Walker said on Wednesday she wants the bullying to stop. She found Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover (above) hanging by an extension cord on the second floor of their 124 Northampton Ave. home Monday night after he had endured another day of taunting at New Leadership Charter School, where he was a sixth-grader, she said...She phoned the school repeatedly since Carl began attending in September but the bullying continued, she said. Other students made him a target, daily calling him gay, making fun of how he dressed and threatening him, she said"

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  1. @ STEVE B: No one deserves to be bullied or harassed for who they are or how they act. A child who commits suicide has been failed by the adults around him or her. Period.

    It is our responsibility, as adults, to ensure the safety of the children in our "care".

    To look at the face of that beautiful boy and say that he is somehow responsible for the treatment he received is misguided and callous.

    Posted by: David R. | Apr 9, 2009 2:15:43 PM

  2. This shit is breaking my heart.

    Posted by: A | Apr 9, 2009 2:17:09 PM

  3. I'm so upset I'm on a roll... This is based on A's comment... I once knew a girl (a friend of a friend) who's brother committed suicide. Her brother was gay and their parents and church had rejected him. He went to live with his sister (who was a couple of years older). The girl's brother really believed all the lies his parents and his church had told him: that he was a sinner because he was gay (and that they would not accept him as their son). He lived a tortured existence. How could a child (he was a young teenager) cope with the fact that his own parents hated him? Well, he could no longer cope. He killed himself. What followed was, in my opinion, just the icing on the cake of evil. His sister loved her brother very much. She was distraught after his death. She told people that her brother was at least out of his pain and misery and that he was with god. Well, why did she go and say a thing like that!? She said this to her parents and church and they told her that her brother was in hell for being gay, and that she was also a sinner for loving such a person!

    Posted by: Avi | Apr 9, 2009 2:34:14 PM

  4. I wasn't going to comment, but I can't look at that smiling face so full of potential for a bright future, no matter who he was going to be as an adult.

    This is just so incredibly sad. I'm a MA resident. My condolences to his family.

    Posted by: Dave | Apr 9, 2009 3:03:32 PM

  5. Steve B: "The child is more responsible for his choices, even in 6th grade."

    I just read your comment, and then re-read it to make sure I wasn't mistaken.

    I can't even begin to reply to you. You must be someone who has had to numb himself to the pain of similar abuse.

    David R - above - says it well: " No one deserves to be bullied or harassed for who they are or how they act. A CHILD (my emphasis) who commits suicide has been failed by the adults around him or her. Period."


    Posted by: Dave | Apr 9, 2009 3:30:05 PM

  6. That face! Poor sweet baby. I hope he found peace. Sometimes the whole damn thing just sucks...

    Posted by: Giovanni | Apr 9, 2009 4:52:55 PM

  7. Poor kid. Very sad. (Just a small question, though. How "gay" did he appear if he was on a football team?!?)

    Posted by: JT | Apr 9, 2009 6:12:35 PM

  8. Does anyone have their own "27 Names For Tears"?
    Mine is
    Heart Dew
    Grief Honey
    Sad Water
    Die Tranen
    Eau De Douleur
    Los Rios Del Corazon
    Iris Tea
    Bleeding Soul Drops
    Salty Eyes

    Liquid Memory
    Fountain Face
    Spirit Rain
    Runny Eyes
    Eyes of Gloomy Weather
    Misery's Sugar
    Bitter Waterslides
    Worry Wellspring

    Sadness Syrup
    Depression Lemonade
    Watery Blues
    Leaky Self-esteem
    Tonic of Heartache
    Flooded Eyes
    Melted Block of Heart
    Bitter Drinks
    Spilt Goodwill

    Posted by: JD | Apr 9, 2009 7:18:27 PM

  9. This is just TERRIBLY upsetting... This madness has got to end! 11 years old, dead, and this could have been prevented. I am appalled...

    Posted by: Richard W. | Apr 9, 2009 8:20:17 PM

  10. This makes my heart hurt. He was just a little baby 6th grade is so young.

    Posted by: onolennon8 | Apr 9, 2009 8:43:58 PM

  11. Just to throw out a resource - the Trevor Project is one agency trying to stop suicide among young LGBT persons - phone # 866 4-U-TREVOR

    Posted by: City Steeple | Apr 9, 2009 9:20:10 PM

  12. No words can express my sadness. It's so incredibly sad to lose someone close to you to suicide as I did a little more than a year ago. That they see suicide as the only way to cope is something I so wished I had an answer. That Carl was only 11 years old makes it that much tougher -- he had so much of life stolen from him -- and for what. One can only hope that some day (and soon) our countries educators realize just how big an issue bullying (anti-gay as well as all kinds) is today.

    Posted by: robertmalcolm | Apr 9, 2009 9:57:00 PM

  13. But, but, but, we wouldn't date want to limit these bullies' freedom of speech now would we?

    I mean, that's what's MOST important that we protect here, right?

    I hear this nonsense spewed in the comments on this site almost daily.

    The crux of the problem here is that we live in a society where there is NOTHING more demeaning, degrading, insulting and unacceptable than being called, or suspected of being, GAY/HOMOSEXUAL/LESBIAN/TRANSGENDER.

    Until we find a way to change this hateful, ignorant, mindset we will continue to hear these heartbreaking stories over and over again.

    Posted by: Zeke | Apr 9, 2009 10:02:35 PM

  14. I still think he seemed, from outside clues, like a pretty traditionally "masculine" kid. He played football and basketball. But he was also a Boy Scout. Could THAT be considered too "gay" in a predominantly African-American student body?

    Posted by: JT | Apr 9, 2009 10:46:20 PM

  15. "The child is more responsible for his choices, even in 6th grade."

    "I have a hard time agreeing with that, but I also can't disagree."

    I can fully disagree. He was 11-years old! That poor kid. You have no idea what his experience was like, or what it was like to be him. Maybe he was more fragile than you. Maybe he endured a lot more bullying than you. But to blame an 11-year old victim is inexcusable imho.

    Posted by: CJ | Apr 9, 2009 11:45:27 PM

  16. This is touching me FAR too much. Carl Walker Hoover was one of my bet friends of all time.
    Those FUCKING idiotic bullies.
    I hope they go to hell.
    He also had a hard time in fifth grade too.
    I think about 5 people were messing with him
    I'm seriously going to miss Carl.
    R.I.P. man.

    Posted by: Mino Xorious | Apr 9, 2009 11:47:14 PM

  17. Yes, contact and donate whatever you can to the trevor project...time...?

    This is fairly routine, but on the plus, we're hearing about it more often. What is no longer out of sight will no longer be out of mind.

    Posted by: TANK | Apr 9, 2009 11:52:50 PM

  18. As many comments note, this is far more common that you realize.
    It IS possible to help these youngsters, save lives and eliminate this behavior.
    I wish to provide you all with information about a remarkable individual working in schools and communities around the world addressing issues of bullying (ALL forms), anger, hate, violence and prejudice.
    These two short videos introduce him and his work:

    To demonstrate the impact of his program, this letter was received in March THIS year!

    Hey. My name is Katie. Three years ago you visited my old high school, in Salford, England. Before the assembly with you, I had been planning to take my own life because of the excessive bullying I was experiencing. I had a razor blade concealed behind my cell phone battery. But you made me realise it wasn\'t my fault I was being bullied - it was just prejudice because the bullies didn\'t understand me. You have inspired me to change other\'s lives the way you have changed mine, and I plan on becoming an educational psychologist to do this. Thank you so much for changing everything. Katie x

    If you want to make a difference and save lives, I urge you to find out more about The Scary Guy - www.thescaryguy.com

    Please feel free to contact me at any time for more information.
    Gary Lee - garylee@thescaryguy.com

    Posted by: Gary Lee | Apr 10, 2009 4:53:46 AM

  19. Alex - I heard about this story on WBZ this morning, so it's getting some Boston-area coverage, at least.

    Posted by: L. | Apr 11, 2009 1:55:06 AM

  20. This really isn’t about anti-gay bullying and abuse. It’s about stopping all bullying and abuse. The bullies used whatever came to hand or mouth – their hatred of gays. The principals and school district administrators didn’t protect either boy, just like they don’t protect most targets of bullying and abuse. That’s why we need laws to force principals to act and to protect them from countersuits by bullying parents of little terrorists.

    Also notice that none of the teachers or the other kids stood up to the bullies. Shame.

    We also can’t and shouldn’t count on schools to protect our children from hurt feelings all the time. We must help our children develop the inner grit and resilience to know how to protect themselves from verbal harassment as well as from physical abuse.

    Disclosure: In addition to having six children, I’m a practical, pragmatic coach and consultant. I’ve written books of case studies, “Parenting Bully-Proof Kids” and “How to Stop Bullies in their Tracks.” Check out my website and blog at BulliesBeGone (http://BulliesBeGone.com).

    Posted by: Ben Leichtling | Apr 15, 2009 3:26:22 PM

  21. I have 2 Sons whom I love very much. They are grown men now and have children of their own.
    This breaks my heart to even think that
    any one could drive a child to such an act.
    Life is so precious for our children and
    Carl did not get to live the life of a joyous child hood.
    My prayer is that this will change the love and respect children have and show toward one another.
    My heart is broken for Sirdeaner his mother. If any one is setting up a
    foundation for his cause, please call me at 817-532-2848. I would love to help support this cause.
    Connie Livengood

    Posted by: Connie Livengood | Apr 18, 2009 1:31:40 AM

  22. im sorry for you loss.
    this is getting very ridiculous, online and in person bullying needs to stop.

    again, im sorry to hear about this.
    what rude inconsiderate people.

    Posted by: blah | Apr 19, 2009 7:21:37 PM

  23. Those "children" (read monsters) who bullied that boy should be made to see him in his casket. They need to be made to see what THEY did. As far as I'm concerned Carl was murdered and the school is also responsible. They let it happen. How many innocent children have to die before schools realize that this is serious!

    Posted by: Maureen | Apr 21, 2009 3:04:14 PM

  24. The fact is that some people in the world are just close-minded and ignorant. Religions are typically to blame, too. (I'm religious, so I'm not insulting anyone's beliefs) but we seem to think that our religions are the only ways.
    The schools are the blame for the result of this boy's death. And I'm terribly sorry for your result.
    I am fifteen. I am a bisexual teenager in a southern environment. Yes, I've been "bullied" and "taunted," but I've handled it better than some. The only reason I have is because I do have friends that support me. I am rejected by my family for being of the GLBT group.
    The fact is that some people can't tolerate this kind of judgement like others. I do well because of support, but I admit the administration has done nothing to stop taunting. I appear normal and act normal, which might make my case much lighter than others, and I have never been one to be insulted and sit silent, I am violent.
    But kids, we can't do that. Because of being called a "fagot" I have reacted violently, and been blamed for the fight. THE TEACHERS do nothing! It's an act of immorality if you ask me!
    If you have the nerve to say you're even a decent human being and you sit back and watch constant taunting by close-minded students, then you are just ignorant!
    My best friend killed himself two years ago because he was a bisexual. He was 18 years old and still hadn't been able to escape redicule and rejection.

    I blame the administration for not putting an end to this.
    I'm different than others because I handle it well and laugh at everyone else's opinion, and that's what we should be teaching our kids! How to know that the only people that matter are the only ones that love them!
    I'm a proud speaker of valuing your life, and the fact that administraion will sit back and watch someone provoke another kid to kill him/herself is disgusting.

    We need to do something.

    My name is Amber Koplen.
    I am 15, and I'm proudly and independantly bisexual.

    Posted by: Koplen | May 12, 2009 11:49:51 AM

  25. My sympathy goes out to the family.

    But we need to think about why this really happens.

    If we would just teach kids not to let themselves feel offended and to turn a bully's attempts to harrass into a joke(unless it's serious bullying like physical bullying, for that teach your kid martial arts). First we need to stop teaching our kids that certain things are "offensive". Instead we should teach kids that others find certain things "offensive", and that the kids do not need to find them "offensive" but they should be respectful if someone else(including their parents or their friends) does. Nothing is truly offensive until someone is offended.

    Bullying is a 2-way street. Someone chooses to bully and someone chooses to be a victim. Our society raises us up with a victim mentality saying that if X happens to you then Y will happen to your mind and there's nothing you can do about it. That isn't true. You always have a choice about how you respond to things.

    Anybody reading this, you do NOT have to be a victim. What ever people are saying about you that says something about their thoughts and perceptions. The bottom line is people aren't always right so don't take what they say about you seriously.

    Posted by: DruFromEL | Sep 20, 2011 5:23:31 AM

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