McDaniel Gatson’s 10-year-old grandson has been subjected to both physical and emotional abuse by other students at McCoy Elementary School in Yazoo City, Mississippi.

As a result, the boy thought about ending his life.

According to WLBT, Gatson, who is the boy’s guardian, had previously met with the principal to talk about one incident, during which the 10-year-old was “kicked in the groin and threatened with murder.”

During that meeting, the principal allegedly failed to inform Gatson that the school had found a suicide note written by Gatson’s grandson. In fact, they didn’t notify Gatson of the letter until Wednesday, three days after it was discovered.

Upon learning about the note, Gatson asked the principal why he wasn’t notified of the letter immediately. Gatson told WLBT:

“He said ‘We was testing Tuesday.’ Okay. You take testing over a life? It could have been a conversation about burying my grandson.”

Thankfully Gatson’s grandson did not take his own life, and the grandparents have since set up an appointment for the boy to meet with a counselor separate from the school.

Krishan Gupta, a psychiatrist in Jackson who’s been working with children for 28 years, told WLBT that because bullying can lead to depression, the school should have notified the grandparents of the note immediately.

According to the NY State Department of Health, suicidal behavior in children ages 10 to 19 can include:

  • Suicidal ideation (thinking, writing, drawing or talking about suicide, death, dying or the afterlife)
  • Dependence on alcohol or drugs
  • Lack of a sense of purpose in life
  • Trouble focusing or thinking clearly
  • Increased withdrawal from family, friends, school, jobs, and society. Poor grades may be a sign that the child is withdrawing at school.
  • Lack of interest in favorite activities
  • Reckless or risk-taking behaviors
  • Rash, bizarre or violent behavior
  • Changed eating or sleeping patterns (such as being unable to sleep or sleeping all the time)
  • Deep feelings of grief, uncontrolled anger, anxiety, shame, hopelessness, guilt or anxiety

If a child is experiencing these types of thoughts or actions, it’s important for the adults in their life to not ignore them and instead create an open dialogue. That way, their child can speak openly about what they are feeling.

As WLBT reports, Yazoo City School District Superintendent Darron Edwards said they are investigating the claims made by Gatson. If they are found to be true, administrative action will be taken.

Gatson explained why he wanted to come forward with his grandson’s story:

“I’m really just trying to expose the fact that we have a problem with bullying in Yazoo City School District.”

According to the school district’s police chief, if the bullying against the boy continues, criminal charges against the bullies could follow.

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