McKenzie Adams, a 9-year-old black girl from Alabama, reportedly took her own life after facing cruel and racist bullying from classmates.
As the Tuscaloosa News reported, the girl’s family found her dead in her home in Linden on December 3. The report noted that the fourth grade student had been relentlessly mocked over her friendship with a white boy in her class, with some of the other classmates even encouraging the young girl to take her life.
“She was being bullied the entire school year, with words such as ‘kill yourself,’ ‘you think you’re white because you ride with that white boy,’ ‘you ugly,’ ‘black b-tch,’ ‘just die’,” the girl’s aunt, Eddwina Harris, told the newspaper.
Harris, who is a television host in Atlanta, said she hopes that the news surrounding her niece’s death will help draw attention to bullying.
“God has blessed me to help others with my platform, and now it’s time to help. There are so many voiceless kids,” she said. “God is opening great doors for justice for my niece.”
But Harris added that the girl’s sudden death has been difficult for the family to understand.
“It’s an emotional roller-coaster,” Harris said.
McKenzie had started attending U.S. Jones Elementary School this year, transferring from another school after her family petitioned the Board of Education, saying that she was being bullied at her last school.
Family members said McKenzie was a right girl with an outgoing personality, who wanted to be a scientist when she grew up. She loved playing with her cousins and traveling, especially to the beach and the zoo.
McKenzie Adams’ death comes amid a spike in suicides among black children. As the Chicago Tribune noted, suicides for black children under the age of 18 are up 71 percent in the past 10 years. Suicides among black children under the age of 13 rose by 116 percent. In the same period, suicides for all children increased by 64 percent, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed.
“Researchers aren’t sure what has fueled the slightly larger rise for black children,” the report noted.
“Some speculate that those affected by racism might be at greater risk. Another factor could be the notion that suicide isn’t a problem in the black community, hindering prevention efforts.”
Linden, AL – 9-year-old McKenzie Adams' family is now planning her funeral instead of hiding Christmas gifts due to bullying.
It's so sad to hear of children taking their own… https://t.co/wkZxk0RdO6
— Jáleesa (@JayDSpeaks) December 9, 2018
In Alabama, the family of McKenzie Adams said they hope the young girl’s death could have some kind of positive outcome, and want people to be more aware of the dangers of bullying.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741. For readers outside the U.S., visit Suicide.org or Befrienders Worldwide for international resources you can use to find help.