9-year-old school girl kills herself by hanging in grandma's home after months of bullying, says heartbroken family
McKenzie Adams was a nine-year-old student in the fourth grade who was said to have a 'bubbly, fun-loving personality', until December 3, when she hanged herself
McKenzie Adams was a nine-year-old student in the fourth grade who was said to have a "bubbly, fun-loving personality". She loved telling stories and even wanted to be a scientist when she grew up. Unfortunately, on December 3, her life came to an abrupt end when she hanged herself in her grandmother's house in Linden, Alabama, after reportedly going through months of bullying.
The child attended the US Jones Elementary School in Demopolis and returned home to do her homework like any other day. She then excused herself to go to the bathroom and her grandmother noticed that she had been gone longer than usual.
McKenzie's aunt, 33-year-old Eddwina Harris, told PEOPLE: "Something happened that day from one of these bullies that pushed my niece over to the edge. It’s an emotional roller coaster. We’re heartbroken." Harris recalled that the child's grandmother found McKenzie in the bathroom.
She said: "She went to the bathroom and the door was locked. [Her grandmother] said, 'Unlock the door. What are you doing?' She ran and got a butter knife and unlocked the door and found McKenzie." The distraught grandmother called 911 immediately after finding her granddaughter in the bathroom. Medics arrived at the scene and performed CPR on the child.
Harris said that her niece died later that same say at Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital. Speaking of McKenzie's mother, Harris said: "The first couple of days [after the death], my sister cried herself to sleep. It was really tough for her. I’m using all my strength to fight for McKenzie. My fight is to get her justice."
An Alabama mother who says bullying led to her daughter's suicide blames her school for not doing enough to protect her. 9-year-old McKenzie Adams took her own life last week. Her mom says the 4th grader was the target of constant racial taunts and name-calling.@DeMarcoReports: pic.twitter.com/ui5aWUTzbJ— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) December 12, 2018
The family also said that McKenzie's death came months after she had to endure bullying at the Demopolis School. Harris also said that her niece, her sister, and her mother complained a few times to school officials who did not do anything to put an end to the abuse.
McKenzie's mother, Jasmine Adams, told CBS News that she feels the school system is the one that let her daughter down. She said: "She told me that this one particular child was writing her nasty notes in class," and added "that was my angel".
Some things in life I will never, ever understand. McKenzie Adams took her own life. She was 9 years-old living in Alabama. Her family says bullying drove her to the edge. This precious child. It's too late to tell her she is loved. #McKenzieAdams pic.twitter.com/uwVoMA9gcG— Letisha Bereola (@LetishaANjax) December 13, 2018
The devastated mother continued: "It was just things you wouldn’t think a nine-year-old should know. And my baby, to tell me some of the things they had said to her, I was like, 'Where are they learning this from?'. Part of it could have been because she rode to school with a white family. And a lot of it was race. Some student bullies would say to her, 'Why you riding with white people? You’re black, you’re ugly. You should just die'."
Harris then said that the elementary school was predominantly a white school and that her niece's bullies were boys and girls who were of both races. The school system has, however, denied that the child was bullied.
Demopolis City School System attorney Alex Braswell told PEOPLE that the school launched their own investigation and determined that "there have been no findings of any reports of bullying by either the student or family".
In parts, the statement reads: "In response to the recent tragic loss of a Demopolis City School System student, the Demopolis City School System does extend its heartfelt wishes and condolences to the family, friends, students, and teachers that have been affected. We have concluded our internal investigation to the allegations of bullying which led to this senseless death."
9-year-old girl's suicide shocks small Alabama community https://t.co/3lS9zngG2D— Columbus Dispatch (@DispatchAlerts) December 9, 2018
Harris said that she rejects the school's claims that the bullying was never reported to them. She insisted that the family spoke to school officials on multiple occasions and noted in one particular instance in which the assistant principal promised the family that she would look into the matter and monitor McKenzie's classroom after the reports.
The aunt said: "Bullying at the school is what led my niece to this. McKenzie told the family and the teachers and the administrators. They all knew. My mom came to the school to talk about the bullying." She added that school officials on one occasion moved McKenzie's seat in the class because of the bullying.
She also said that her niece went back home some days emotionally exhausted but that her family was always there for her and did all they could to help her out. Harris told PEOPLE: "She was well loved. She was surrounded by people that loved her. She was always a loving child. She was in a great environment. She was in a well-loving family."
According to AL.com, McKenzie's death came mere weeks after nine-year-old Maddie Whittsett committed suicide with the girl's family also saying her death was caused by bullying.
Harris says that the family has now decided to take action against bullying to prevent a tragedy like this from happening again. They have set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for The McKenzie Foundation which will support children who have or are currently being bullied. The page has raised a little more than $3,000 of the $10,000 goal so far.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text 'help' to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.