Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Houston, Texas: Asher Brown, age 13, shoots himself after being bullied

Asher Brown, age 13

Parents: Bullying May Have Led To Son's Suicide
Student, 13, Said He Was Bullied At Hamilton Middle School
POSTED: Wednesday, September 29, 2010
UPDATED: 5:22 pm CDT September 29, 2010

HOUSTON -- The parents of a 13-year-old northwest Harris County student who fatally shot himself said their son may have committed suicide because he was bullied.

Asher Brown's parents said their son was a constant target of bullies at Opal Hamilton Middle School.

They described him as a compassionate and loving child who was tormented by relentless bullying.
"Yes, he was gay. He was also Buddhist. He was also a child with a disability," said David Truong, Asher's stepfather.

Truong said Asher may have had a form of autism called Asperger's syndrome.
Asher also spoke with a lisp and was a bit clumsy, his parents said.

Truong said he believes Asher was bullied to death.

"It was the same group of kids. It was like a pack -- a pack of animals," Truong said.
Truong said Asher told him he was gay on Thursday morning. Later that day, he found the boy dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Truong said Asher came to a breaking point after another boy kicked Asher down a flight of stairs twice while at school and kicked all of his books out of his hands.

"Eyewitnesses (said Asher) turned and said, 'You better apologize or I'm going to kill myself.' The kid was like, 'Whatever,'" Truong said.

Truong said the faculty at Hamilton treated his complaints, which he claims included three phone calls and three visits, with the same attitude -- brushing him aside and ignoring him.

The school said in a statement, "There was no report from students, staff members or the parents that this student was bullied while at Hamilton Middle School. Such a report would have been investigated and consequences would have followed the Student Code of Conduct."

Truong disagreed and is calling for justice for Asher. He said he wants students to follow what he calls "the Asher rule" -- if you see bullying, speak up.

"Please, rally -- rally, rally around your children," Truong said. "If this is the wild west, circle the wagons around your children."

Truong said they may take legal action against the school.

Suicide is said to be the third leading cause of death for teenagers. According to the National Institute for Mental Health, as many as 25 suicides are attempted for each one that is completed.

Child psychologists provided the following advice for parents of children who may be bulled.
Open communication every day is critical for parents and children, and parents should let their children know they are on their side.

Parents are also urged to talk to teachers at school and find out if they have an anti-bullying/harassment policy.

A record should be kept of what is happening, who is involved and how often it is happening.
Parents should also follow up to see if any progress is made. If not, meet with school administrators and keep notes of the meetings.

In the worst cases, parents should contact law enforcement if a child's been physically assaulted or threatened. An attorney may also need to be contacted.