On October 7, 2014, Texas mother Jackie James walked into her son’s room to find a sight no parent should ever have to see. There, hanging from a ceiling fan, was her 13-year-old son Peyton, dead from an apparent suicide. Now, just over a month after Peyton’s death, James is speaking out on what led her son to take his own life.
Peyton, James says, suffered from discolored teeth since he was born. His premature birth made it necessary for him to remain on pure oxygen for eight weeks. The oxygen left his teeth permanently discolored. This, along with his distaste for athletics and love of reading, made him an easy target for bullies. The fact that he was very open about his faith didn't help.
According to The Daily Mail, "One boy allegedly told him Christianity was stupid and that he was 'dumb' for believing in God."
"He was called 'loser,' he was called a nerd, geek, gay, all of those things, and he just didn't understand why they would do that," James told KVUE.
James enrolled Peyton in a new school this year in hopes of finding him a fresh, bully-free start. Just a month into the new school year, though, he came home one day visibly shaken.
“I thought he was brooding, being a typical 13-year-old boy, and I found him, and he was hanging from the ceiling fan," James said. "If throughout those years, if these certain people had just been kind to him, he would have had so much more self esteem, and he would have recognized his value.
“I tried to tell him over and over how special he was. But, when you are 13, what your mom says is not as important as what your classmates say.”
Now, heartbroken, James is starting a campaign in hopes of raising awareness about the potentially fatal consequences of bullying. The campaign is called Kindness Matters.
"It's been six weeks, and I can't imagine the rest of my life without him." James said. "It's never going to make sense to me, but I can find a new purpose, and I can do something that's going to honor him."