Devin Brown, 13, should have been lauded as a hero.
When he learned a classmate was planning to brutally murder a teacher at his school, he took action and told someone who could help. His classmates should have thanked him. Instead, they mercilessly bullied him, threatened him, and called him a "snitch" — and after what had been months of torture that culminated in this event, Brown hanged himself in his closet.
Rothschild Middle School in Columbus, Ga., didn't seem to have been a safe environment for students, especially those who were bullied. In the last six months alone, there were no fewer than fifteen bullying incidents at the school that required police intervention. Ironically, those were the last six months of Brown's short life.
"He said, 'Everyone is calling me a snitch and he said there's about 15-20 people who want to jump on me,'" recalled Devin's father, Ray Brown, who knew his son was being bullied before the "snitch" incident but was powerless to stop it.
Of the previous instances of bullying, Brown added, "We talked to the school, they said, 'We haven't heard anything about it, just let it go.'"
Although he didn't leave a note, Devin Brown apparently told friends he was planning on committing suicide after school that day. They thought he was just blowing off steam, so they didn't tell anyone or even think much of it until his death.
At the funeral, friends put notes into a box engraved with the word "hero," for potentially saving a teacher's life.
"I made this for him," said the elder Brown, "because he is my hero. He did the right thing and he knew he did the right thing."
That's just it. It's absolutely horrifying that Devin "did the right thing" and was still bullied to death for it. It's ghastly that students can bully a child for so many months, and when he does something worth endless thanks, they ramp up the taunting and teasing as if he did something wrong.
He didn't do anything wrong. This boy loved cooking and mixed martial arts, but the pain he faced every day at school was too much to hide within the passion he had for his hobbies. Bullying broke Devin down until nothing could put him back together.
In honor of his son, Ray Brown has pledged to work to end school bullying.
"I am going to do whatever I can in his name to stop it," he said. "There is no reason a kid should be scared to go to school."
The Brown family hopes to start a foundation to fight back against bullying, so other children in their son's situation — especially at his troubled school — do not have to resort to suicide just so someone hears their cries for help.
RAINN provides important information on ways to tell if a friend is suicidal and how you can help, even if that means telling someone else. Always take suicide threats seriously.