Seven Bridges

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Seven Bridges

Lily Haag, Co-Editor-in-Chief

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Honoring the life of ten-year-old suicide victim, Seven Bridges

 

      Seven Bridges has been described by his family as having been an incredible boy with a big heart, strong faith, and an unparalleled kindness. Despite this, it is likely that his name will forever be associated with shocking and tragic way in which his young life ended.

      On January 19, Tami Charles went to the grocery store and left her son at home with three jobs: finish a writing assignment for school, hang up his clothes, and fold his socks.

      When she returned home she found that Seven had completed two of these tasks, but she came face to face with a parent’s worst nightmare- her son had hanged himself and effectively ended his own life after only ten years.

      As shocked as she was, Charles said she knew that there was one reason in which a child who had so much time ahead of him would end his life- rampant bullying that she claimed to have reported to Kerrick Elementary School on multiple occasions.

     Charles claims that her son endured bullying that ranged from constant teasing to an event at the beginning of the school year that ended in a hospital visit. In August 2018, Bridges was choked and called a racial slur while riding the school bus. He complained of dizziness afterward, and was taken to the hospital for a CT scan. This incident was reported to the school but nothing was ever done according to Charles.

      Seven was born with a bowel condition and suffered through over 20 surgeries in his ten years. Kids at school and on the bus would often make fun of the smell that came from his colostomy bag, according to Charles.

      Thousands of people have responded to Seven’s story online, prompting bigger conversations: What could cause a ten-year-old to end his own life? How could a school not notice such intense bullying? How did such a young child stumble upon the answer of suicide?

      Charles  has allegedly reported several incidents of bullying to JCPS but to no avail. She was so fed up with her pleas for action being unanswered that she had decided to move her son to a different school. At the time of his death he was only a few months away from transferring to a different school.

     “We would talk to him about having new friends and a new start. He just had to get to the end of the year,” Charles said.

     The family has been quite clear in the fact that they blame their child’s school system for Seven’ death.

“JCPS: You all failed my baby,” Charles said during an emotionally charged interview two days after her son’s death.

      JCPS maintains that while the death of Bridges is devastating there is not yet proof of wrongdoing by the school.

      “When complaints were made, I can tell you they were addressed,” JCPS spokesperson Renee Murphy said. “But again, we will have a full investigation, a full review to see exactly what happened and if all the policies and procedures were followed.”

      In the 2018-2019 school year there have been eight suicides by students in the JCPS system, which encompasses the Louisville Metropolitan area, with Seven being the youngest. The suicide rate across the United States has climbed significantly in recent years. Since 1999, the suicide rate has jumped 30 percent and is the second-leading cause of death for those aged 10-34, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

   Charles wants her son’s tragic demise to start a conversation about bullying and the ways that schools are failing children. Just days after Seven’s death, Tami Charles is speaking out hoping to raise awareness where it concerns suicide and bullying.

          “I want to tell you bullied children to stay Seven strong,” Charles said. “Seven sacrificed his life to highlight your despair in order to make it better for your future.”

  Charles is hoping JCPS will make changes so that there’s not another Seven. Charles wants to put a face to this horrific tragedy so she has not stayed away from telling the world exactly what has been lost. She has openly described her son as a boy who loved to dance, play music and was obsessed with superheroes. She told the Courier Journal an anecdote in which Bridges cried when he found out that comic book writer Stan Lee had died.

   Charles may be seeking penance from JCPS but she says that she forgives the children that led her son to suicide. She has but one message for her child’s bullies:

    “Forgive yourself. Seven did. He forgave you already. He found his peace; it’s time for you to find yours.”
     

 

Anyone interested in helping the family cover funeral and legal fees against the school can visit the family’s GoFundMe https://www.gofundme.com/rest-in-paradise-seven-bridge