A young girl has committed suicide after being relentlessly bullied at her Alabama elementary school. Madison “Maddie” Whittsett, 9, hanged herself in her bedroom Friday. Despite being rushed to the Children’s of Alabama hospital for treatment, the youngster was pronounced dead three days later.
According to authorities, Maddie was due to head out for a bite with her mother, Eugenia Williams. She appeared excited, and was even running around the house, screaming with excitement. “Maddie loved Chick-fil-A and she was running through the house,’’ said her stepfather, Birmingham Fire and Rescue Service Lt. Jimmie Williams, according to AI.com.
When her mom was ready to go, she called out for Maddie, but received no response. Williams headed up to her room, where she noticed that her closet door was open and her television had been left on. She knew something was wrong and rushed into Maddie’s room. After flinging open the closet door, she was met with every parent’s nightmare – her daughter was unresponsive and had clearly hanged herself.
Lt. Williams said that, according to Maddie’s friends, the young girl had experienced a particularly nasty instance of bullying on the day she took her own life. “We talked to one of her friends and Maddie had apparently had a bad day. The friend said Maddie was bullied and she looked sad while she was being bullied,’’ Lt. Williams explained. “It must have really worn her out that day.”
Birmingham City Schools released a statement Tuesday afternoon, that read:
“Our school community is deeply saddened by the recent passing of a student. Counselors and district-level support staff, trained to help students, parents and school personnel at difficult times such as this, have been on-site at the impacted school today to provide assistance to students and staff in needed of support in processing this tragedy. The death of any young person is a tragic loss that impacts the whole school community, and we send our deepest condolences to the family.”
Maddie’s mom said that her daughter had been specifically targeted by bullies due to the fact she struggled with ADHD. Williams said the children called her daughter “stupid” and “dumb” as a result of her condition.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, ADHD can result in children having “trouble paying attention,” and can even cause “controlling impulsive behaviors.” The CDC advises that ADHD is best treated with a combination of therapy and medication.
According to her stepfather, Maddie started a new ADHD medication in recent weeks, which lists “suicidal thoughts” as a possible side effect. “The bullying plus the medicine, I think, gave her the boost to do that,” Lt. Williams said.
Maddie’s parents said they were under the impression that the bullying had been dealt with by school officials, though clearly it had been allowed to continue. Despite this heart-wrenching fact, the parents hold no ill-will against the school and are convinced that administrators did everything they could to stamp out the terrible treatment of their daughter. Instead, the parents are now putting their energy into helping others spot the signs of bullying so it can be caught early.
“Maybe you can see if anything is going on. Look for changes in attitude,” Lt. Williams said. “Changes in behavior…Support them and be there for them.”
“We don’t want this to happen to anyone else.”
If you or anyone you are aware of is having suicidal thoughts, help is available. Contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741.