Students and parents said on Thursday that Joel Morales, 12, was bullied in his East Harlem neighborhood and at school before he hanged himself on Tuesday in his apartment.
One mother, Sadia Hashmi, told The New York Times that she would often walk to school with her son, who went to school together. She recalled how he was sometimes depressed over how other children treated him, and she asked him why they did that.
“Sometimes he would say he doesn’t know why,” said Ms. Hashmi, who is an occupational therapist at the school, Public School 102. “Sometimes he would say because he was small. They would say really mean things.
And a former classmate, Destynee Lewis, 11, recalled that Morales was bullied for being short.
“The bullies are a group of boys — 12, 9, 10, 11 — all different ages,” she said. “They told him he was ugly, and he’d tell the teacher, and the teacher would tell the parents” of the children who picked on Morales. “But it didn’t help.”
“People really picked on him, both inside and outside the school. I can’t say it, what they said, they were bad words,” Destynee said. “I felt angry and sad, because he was a nice kid and I’d stick up for him. They’d say, mind your business.”
Members of the Morales family said he killed himself because he had been repeatedly picked on.