Seven Bridges’ experience with bullying first made headlines in September 2018 when he was called a racial slur while riding the bus home from his Louisville, Kentucky, school.
According to WHAS11, another kid riding the same bus reportedly called Seven the N-word, and a friend encouraged Seven to beat that kid up.
But when he chose not to engage, Seven was choked out by the “bus buddy.” His mom, Tami Charles, said at the time:
“My baby said that it got dark, his ears were popping and he could hear the students saying, ‘he’s choking him, he’s choking him,’ and he said he felt a little woozy.”
After taking her son to get a CT scan, Charles called out her son’s school, Kerrick Elementary, in a video for their lack of action.
(Warning: The video below contains strong language.)
They called my son a Nigger and he got choked by a white boy on the bus. He turned grey and passed out. They tried to DISMISS me and make it like the CHOKER was the victim. They NEVER called us. My son is 10 years old. #Share #Woke #WAYMENT #Awareness #MothersofBlacksons
Posted by Tami Charles on Wednesday, August 29, 2018
The video has since been shared more than 41,000 times.
At the time, Seven told WHAS11:
“I was thinking ‘why is he doing that, I thought he was my friend.’ […] I still can’t get him choking me out of my head.”
According to Charles, Seven — who they called their miracle baby after she was told she couldn’t have kids — dealt with certain health issues at a young age.
Seven once used a colostomy bag, and when it was removed, he would still deal with “problems leaking.” It became something his classmates bullied him for.
It remains unclear if the students responsible for attacking Seven in September ever faced repercussions for their alleged actions.
Five months later, on January 19, 2019, Charles discovered her 10-year-old son hanging in his closet.
Charles told WHAS11 that she was at the grocery store and her husband was at a church choir practice when their son took his own life. Charles said:
“I saw my son dead. That’s something in my head.”
HIs father, Donnie Bridges, added:
“For the few minutes that we left, he didn’t want us to see that.”
Charles said that she plans on taking legal action.
She is “blaming the bullies and a flawed system that couldn’t protect her son”:
“The balls that were dropped. It wasn’t that JCPS didn’t have these tools, they just weren’t at our school. It wasn’t that they didn’t have these tools to help the victims of bullying, they just weren’t there, they weren’t used.”
Seven was planning on starting a new school in August:
“We kept telling him this will all be over.”
According to StopBullying.gov, bullying doesn’t discriminate:
Bullying can affect everyone — those who are bullied, those who bully, and those who witness bullying. Bullying is linked to many negative outcomes including impacts on mental health, substance use, and suicide. It is important to talk to kids to determine whether bullying — or something else — is a concern.
A spokesperson for the school told WHAS11 that while they couldn’t get into the specifics of the bullying that reportedly went on at their school, they are thinking of Seven’s family.
The spokesperson said:
“We are devastated. Our hearts are breaking for this family. This school community is hurting right now.”
A GoFundMe has been set up to help Tami and Donnie pay for their son’s funeral.