10-Year-Old Boy Dies by Suicide After Being Bullied for Colostomy Bag
When most of the people around you are generally healthy, having a chronic illness can be tough. It may often feel lonely, like no one really understands what you’re going through. But when you’re a kid with chronic illness, these differences are often magnified.
Seven Bridges, a 10-year-old boy from Kentucky, died by suicide on Jan. 19 after reportedly being bullied for a chronic bowel condition.
Bridges’ mother, Tami Charles, said he struggled with bullies on the bus ride to school, who teased him about the smell from his condition, news station WDRB reported.
The 10-year-old was born with an unspecified bowel condition, requiring him to undergo more than 26 surgeries and use a colostomy bag. A colostomy is a surgical procedure that creates an opening for the colon, or large intestine, in the abdominal wall. Colostomies may be performed for a number of different reasons, such as infection, disease or injury, and can be either temporary or permanent.
In Bridges’ case, he used a colostomy bag as a means to collect waste, but it was removed as he got older. The site continued to leak waste, however, resulting in the bullying.
“Twenty-six surgeries from the day my son was born. Twenty-six surgeries. He just wanted to be normal, that’s all,” Bridges’ mother told WHAS11.
Mighty contributor Amelia B. knows how tough it can be to grow up with a bowel condition. In her essay, “Why It Was Difficult Growing Up With Crohn’s Disease,” she writes:
School, especially middle school, can be brutal. Kids can be mean if you’re even a tiny bit ‘different.’ Judgment is high, and no one gives you a break. Everyone wants to fit in, which is impossible. What’s ‘cool’ is always changing. It’s very easy to be teased for something that shouldn’t be made fun of in the first place.
I just wanted to be ‘normal.’ To not have to go to a million doctor appointments. To be able to eat cold cut sandwiches and chips. To not be self-conscious about going to the bathroom.
But, I had to add the pressures of having a chronic illness into the mix. Kids already have all that stress – now imagine having to deal with something you don’t completely understand yourself. It shouldn’t happen. No one should bear the weight of chronic illness, especially kids.
Tami Charles and Donni Bridges, Seven’s parents, said they plan to take legal action against Jefferson County Public Schools, believing the school could have done more to help their son.
While the bullying and medical challenges Seven faced seem to have played a big role in his suicide, it’s important to remember that suicide is complex.
“So often with bullying being involved in suicide, we tend to oversimplify it and create a simple cause and effect scenario, but it’s always a combination of factors that lead to a suicide death,” Megan Barnett, chair of the Kentucky chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, explained. “Children who are involved in bullying, whether they are being bullied or bullying others, are at an increased risk of suicide, and we need to get that population connected with mental health services.”
A GoFundMe has been created in Seven’s honor with the goal of raising $60,000 to help his family with funeral expenses, lost wages and legal aid.
Lead Image via Seven Bridges’ GoFundMe Page