An 11-year-old Oak Cliff boy took his own life earlier this month, and his mother says he was the victim of bullying.
Julio Ortiz, known as Junior, was a sixth-grade student at L.V. Stockard Middle School. His mother, Maya Rodriguez, found the boy dead in a bedroom closet two days before spring break.
The mother of seven says her son hung himself because he was being bullied at school. She also says he was being pressured to sell drugs.
Rodriguez says her son’s demeanor changed in the weeks leading up to his death. He was angry and had a quick temper, she says. She says she wants to tell his story to raise awareness of bullying and suicide prevention.
Suicide is the third-leading cause of death for Americans ages 10-24, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And a CDC survey found that Hispanic high school students in the United States are more likely to report attempting suicide than their non-Hispanic peers.
Learn the warning signs:
- Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves
- Looking for a way to kill themselves, like searching online or buying a gun
- Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
- Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
- Talking about being a burden to others
- Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
- Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Withdrawing or isolating themselves
- Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
- Extreme mood swings
And call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 800.273.8255, if you or anyone you know may be considering suicide.
The family has a Go Fund Me account where they’ve raised money for the boy’s headstone, and any leftover funds will go “to a program that will make a difference in lives of victims of bullying.”
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