The family of a 12-year-old a boy who took his own life is speaking out about bullying and trying to raise awareness through their movement #DoItForDrayke. Drayke Hardman died last week after being bullied by a classmate over the past year, his parents Andrew and Samie told KUTV.
On Monday, he came home from school with a black eye – later confiding in his sister about an altercation with another student. Two days later, on Wednesday, Drayke asked to stay home instead of attend basketball practice. His parents said he seemed to be doing alright.
But that night, Drayke took his life.
His sisters found him in his bedroom before he was rushed to hospital, where he died on Thursday morning.
“Drayke’s personality was all about people,” Drayke’s mother Samie Hardman said.
“He loved to make people laugh. He loved to do what he could to always make sure that somebody had a friend.”
The Utah family says that Drayke had a heart of gold and was kind to everyone around him.
They are devastated by the loss and want to do what they can to make sure no other parent has to go through this.
Already, they’ve received a lot of support.
Drayke was a huge Utah Jazz fan and even some of his favorite players have reached out, including Donovan Mitchell.
“And in his message, it says, ‘your boy will be taking the court with us tonight’,” Samie said.
The family said that stopping bullying comes from within the home.
“Deep down there’s something broken that this child took from my son, and it has to come from somewhere, because like Samie said, children aren’t naturally angry,” said Andrew Hardman, Drayke’s father.
“So for him to have to attack my son to build his confidence means he was lacking something.
“So, in a sense, this bully was also a victim, and that’s where we need to find the solution is teaching our children that the world is broken, but they’re the generation that is going to fix it.”
Nathan Watkins, the Program Director of Wasatch Family Therapy, explained the psychology of bullying.
“The bully is only projecting their fears onto the others around them,” Watkins said.
“And that may be true often times, children develop mentally, depending on the age, and are looking to be successful amongst their peers.
“And so that success may come in the form of them looking to best someone else in some way, shape or form and if they don’t feel like they can do that, they might look to do that in other ways.”
The family encourages that parents talk to their kids about how to be kind to others. “It’s learned. It’s a conversation not only do we as parents need to sit down and have with our kids, but it’s conversations we need to have with ourselves – who are we as people and what are we unknowingly teaching our kids,” Samie said.
“I’m angry and I’m hurt and I’m broken and yet part of me just wants this bully to find peace. To be fixed. To not have any other kids fall.”
Watkins said it’s important to talk to children about bullying early on, stating, “Parents should start as early as kids spending time with other peers, other friends. Especially, maybe every time when they get ready to start the new school year, talking about how we can express kindness.”
A fundraiser has been launched to help support the Hardman family.
If you need help in a crisis, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For further information about depression contact beyondblue on 1300224636 or talk to your GP, local health professional or someone you trust.