9-year-old Madison “Maddie” Whittsett committed suicide in Alabama following constant bullying in school
Fourth grader, Madison “Maddie” Whittsett, committed suicide after being continually bullied at school
Parents thought the school took care of the bullying
Moments before her death she was running around excited
As of last year, a child under 13 commits suicide on an average of five days
Birmingham Fire and Rescue Service Lt. Jimmie Williams’ 9-year-old daughter, Madison “Maddie” Whittsett, decided to end her life after constantly being bullied at her Alabama elementary school on November 9.
Maddie came home that day from school and appeared excited to go out to eat right before she was found hanging, according to her parents. Her mother, Eugenia Williams, described her as alive, energetic, funny, and someone who loved to dance.
Moments before Maddies suicide
Maddie came home from school that day and was expecting go out to eat with her mother to Chick-fil-A. Maddie was running around with joy and excitement and then proceeded to go to her room while Eugenia Williams finished what she was doing.
While getting ready, Eugenia Williams called her husband to let him know of her plans. After the phone call, one of her friends calls and talks to her during the traumatic experience.
When Eugenia Williams was ready to leave, she called out for Whittsett while still on the phone, but she did not reply. Since she did not answer, Eugenia Williams went outside and checked the deck and front yard, but she was not there.
Eugenia Williams then headed to her daughters room but noticed something was off right before she entered the room. Maddie’s TV was playing but her daughter was not watching it and she noticed the closet was open. Maddie was the type that always wanted her closet closed so her mother went to the closet to close it and that is when she was quickly devastated.
Eugenia Williams immediately dropped the phone yelling at the person on the other end to call 911 as she got her daughters hanging body down. Eugenia Williams proceeded to do CPR until medical assistance arrived.
Once medical assistance arrived, they rushed her to St. Vincent’s East hospital to be stabilized, but she needed to be air lifted from there to another hospital that was better equipped to help. They ran into a serious issue at the hospital; the weather was not clear enough to take off right away.
Once it cleared they took off to Children’s of Alabama hospital where she was pronounced dead three days later. Maddie’s father does not just blame the bullies for her death but the combination of the bullies and her new attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medicine. Maddie just started taking medicine that had a side effect of suicidal thoughts.
According to CrimeOnline, her father said:
The bullying plus the medicine, I think, gave her the boost to do that.
That was not the first day that Maddie was bullied. Her family has met with the school and talked to the principle who assured the parents it would be resolved. Some of the kids at school would call Maddie “dumb” and “stupid” because of her ADHD.
According to Alabama(AL) News:
“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 said. “It must have really worn her out that day.”
The family does not want to release the name of the school as they feel the school tried helping to resolve the bullying.
The city’s schools released a statement:
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.
America’s Broken System
Children are taught to speak out against bullies and bring it to the attention to those in charge, but as we can tell from this example and many others that it does not always work. The children that get bullied either choose the same path as Maddie, stand up for themselves, or just take the abuse. When they or their friends stand up against their bullies it can end with suspension, jail time, or violence.
In North Carolina, this year, a teen was suspended for standing up for his friend that was getting bullied. In Washington this year, a father of a child that was bullied was thrown in jail after making threats to harm the bully. Last year, a student brought a knife into a New York school and ended up stabbing his bullies, leaving one dead, after continuously being mocked with racist and homophobic slurs.
Teenagers from ages 15-19 have skyrocketed over the last few years, according to the CDC. A study recently done shows that a child under the age of 13 commits suicide every five days. According to another study released in May of this year, more than 115,800 visits to the emergency room were due to suicide attempts or ideations during the seven year study.
Dr. Gregory Plemmons, an associate professor of clinical pediatrics at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, believes the growing numbers is due to depression, anxiety, and social media.
According to TIME:
We know that anxiety and depression are increasing in young adults as well as adults. I think some people have theorized it’s social media maybe playing a role, that kids don’t feel as connected as they used to be.
Dr. Plemmons also told CBS:
This is a real phenomenon. If your child or teenager expresses to you that they’ve been thinking about suicide, it’s important to talk about it and ask further questions. Seek care when needed. Don’t minimize it or avoid it. You’re not going to make someone suicidal by asking about it. That’s supported by research. If they’re already thinking them, you need to have a plan for what to do.
Are Teenagers and Children Reaching Out?
The short answer is yes. Teens and children know that what they are feeling is not right and have been reaching out any way possible. Sadly, a new trend that The Daily Haze noticed, is using social media to reach out one last time or to say goodbye. Katelyn Nichole Davis, 12, decided to end her life while livestreaming her suicide in a 42 minute long video online. Nakia Venant, 14, went live on Facebook in a two hour long livestream while she decided to end her life.
Adults are even choosing to say their last goodbyes online while livestreaming it. Frederick Jay Bowd, 33, chose to end his life on Facebook as well in a live video.
If you or anyone you know 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.