Did Bullying Lead to UK Teen’s Suicide?
A 16-year-old high school student from the United Kingdom has taken his own life and his mother says he committed suicide because he was the victim of anti-gay bullying by girls who harassed him for two years, the British newspaper the Sun reports.
Anthony Stubbs went missing in November, not long after his 18-year-old girlfriend, Charlotte Mason, gave birth to their daughter Lilly. He told Mason that he was going to his mother’s home but he disappeared until authorities found his body on Jan. 14 in the woods near his family’s home in Leyland, Lancashire, which is in North West England.
Stubbs hanged himself and although he left behind a note, it did not explain why he took his own life. The teen’s mother, Denise Machin, however, says anti-gay bullying lead to her son’s tragic death.
"Anthony was getting bullied by girls for two years. He would get shouted ’gay boy’ at, get slapped in the face, come home with his school jumper ripped and even got his phone stolen. He would be upset but pick himself up and go back the next day," Machin, 34, said. "I spoke to his teachers about it, but Anthony begged me not to get involved because it was making it worse and he’d get embarrassed."
Even though girls bullied Stubbs about his sexuality, he had been with Mason for two years. But Machin says their relationship only gave the encouraged the harassers.
"The couple did find it tough - Charlotte would even be teased with people shouting things like, ’You’re going out with a faggot’," she said.
In Stubbs’ note, he writes to his mother that no one should walk over her.
"Well, I’m gone but not completely. I will be watching over you and making sure you make the right choices," the note reads. "And don’t forget me, I’m in heaven looking down. Please don’t grieve and try to move on as best you can, I love you all so very much.’
He also wrote to his 4-year-old brother Oscar and says he should grow up to be a "tough" guy and that he could have his Xbox.
Machin admits, however, that she even had doubts about her son’s orientation.
"To me he always seemed to have camp mannerisms and I always had my suspicions he could be gay," his mother said.
She found out that her son was flirting with boys on the Internet but didn’t bring it up with him.
"He was still with Charlotte and I was worried he was confused about his sexuality," Machin said. "I kept it to myself as I didn’t want to embarrass him or scare him off talking to me."
But when Stubbs told his mother that he was going to be a father, she decided to share her doubts with.
"He shouted that he wasn’t gay and loved Charlotte, but eventually confessed he might be bisexual," she recalls. "I told him I knew he loved his girlfriend but that he needed to be honest with her."
When Stubbs disappeared, Machin and Mason found a strange text on the teen’s phone and it turned out to be from a male.
"Anthony was obviously experimenting, finding out who he was," Machin said.
When Stubbs’ daughter was born, Machin said things were getting better and he was very happy.
"He and Charlotte looked so in love so I thought maybe he had just been going through a difficult time and had come to terms with his sexuality," she said. "He was doing so well at school and looking forward to going to college. He wanted to get a good job and do everything he could for Lily and Charlotte. He was such a talented boy. He would compete in school talent contests and wanted to be an actor or in the media. He had his whole life ahead of him. He was so smart and funny."
Machin did add, however, that she believed her son was "good at hiding how he really felt and making everyone believe he was OK."
Nevertheless, Machin says she is "happy" that Stubbs left a note and she can take comfort in the fact that "he is happy now."
"I think his feelings for the same sex left him struggling to know what to do about it. I think it got on top of him - coping with these feelings, being a dad and being good to Charlotte. I think there should be someone in schools to support teenagers who may be going through this confusion."