"The signs were there, but the bullying, it was so bad. Just teach your kids to be kind because kids can be so cruel," the mom said.
Trigger Warning: The following content includes descriptions of suicide which may be distressing for some readers.
A 13-year-old boy took his own life and his body was discovered on his school's campus. Austin Pendergrass from Wendell, North Carolina had died by suicide after being bullied since he was in sixth grade, according to his devastated mother.
Bullying is a serious issue and the boy's mother Jessica Pendergrass exlained what she hopes for the future. She told WRAL "It's so sad. But I hope, I really hope, that this can bring some awareness to other parents, to check on their kids, be mean, go through their social media, go through their phones, find out what's going on." Urging the parents to "teach their kids to be kind to other kids, even if they're different," she added that parents must "listen to our kids, and know what's going on. And just hug your kids a little tighter."
The boy's family believes he was being bullied for a long time. "Last year, he struggled a lot," Jessica Harris, the boy's aunt said of her nephew. "And, I think that came from some kids bullying him ... from a kid bullying him from what I've been told." The young boy's untimely death is a reminder of how bullying affects a child's life and it's always best to address the issue as soon as possible. "The signs were there, but the bullying, it was so bad. Just teach your kids to be kind because kids can be so cruel," the young boy's mom told CBS17.
The young teen lived part-time with his mom and part-time with his dad. Family and friends gathered for a vigil soon after his death to pay tribute to the eighth-grader. They all wore his favorite colors: red and white. "I just wish Austin knew all these people were here to support [him]," said Pendergrass. "I just wish he didn't feel so alone."
This is 13 year old Austin Pendergrass. I met his mom tonight under the most tragic circumstances.— Josh Chapin (@JoshChapinABC11) September 8, 2022
Austin took his own life the other day. His mom said it was after repeated bullying #ABC11 @WendellMiddle @WCPSS pic.twitter.com/eK2vUqWq0N
Harris described him as "an amazing little boy" who loved turtles. "He was also very helpful. He would always want to pitch in and help out with doing anything. He liked to bake with his mom and siblings."
"He was just so young," Austin’s sister Haylie Pendergrass added. "He had his whole life ahead of him. If your child, your brother, or your sister — whoever — if they’re showing any signs of anything, please get them help," Haylie said. "Please listen to them no matter what they say."
If you are having thoughts about taking your own life, or know of anyone who is, please contact The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433).
Cover Image Source: YouTube | CBS 17