Andy Leach was a special kid with a bright smile. But as he struggled with his sexual orientation and came out of the closet, bullies at Southaven Middle School were brutal.
“He was a very loving young boy. He had a contagious smile,” his mother, Cheryl Hudson, told News Channel 3. “He was outdoorsy. He loved to go camping. If you were down, he’d try to help you up.”
According to his mother, she missed all of the signs her son needed help.
“I guess I was just oblivious to it. He just always seemed happy,” Hudson said.
“He was struggling a lot internally with sexual orientation,” his father Matt Leach said. “He finally came out with the information at school that he thought he may be bisexual. I think that really amped up the bullying.”
March 6, Andy couldn’t take it anymore. His parents found notes that walked through his plan to commit suicide. His older brother was the only other person at home. His body was found in the family’s outdoor garage.
“Kids were telling him, ‘We’re gonna put hands on you. You’re not going to make it out of this bathroom.’ Things of that nature,” his father revealed.
His mother wants to show the children at school what they did to her son and how it lead to his death. They also don’t think that their son knew about the national suicide hotline (call 1-800-273-8255), The Trevor Project or “It Gets Better” campaign — all designed to help youth questioning their sexuality.
They hope that they can help others in wake of Andy’s death.
“If you think there’s any chance of your child suffering from depression, their grades are drastically changing, their eating habits or sleeping habits changed, then get in their business. Talk to them,” Leach said.
Andy’s parents suspect the so-called “no tolerance policy” on bully at school was not being enforced. A statement from the DeSoto County Schools didn’t say whether or not they knew of the bullying and merely restated their policy and offered thoughts and prayers.
“Our hearts go out to this young student’s friends and family,” the statement said.