March 22, 2018
Photo via Natalie Broda/Digital First Media
On Jan. 4 2017, A’layah Weatherspoon was found hanging in her bedroom with a belt around her neck. By the time the 9-year-old’s father Charles Weatherspoon found her, it was too late. A’layah was rushed to the hospital and pronounced dead two days later.
Now Charles is reexamining what may have led to his daughter’s suicide and spoke with The Oakland Press about signs he overlooked. Weatherspoon said A’layah was bullied for years by her peers at Cooley Elementary School in Waterford, Michigan.
The kids at her school would make fun of her – teasing her about her hair and even calling her ugly. According to her father, she would say she didn’t want to go to school.
Months before her death, A’layah came home from school with “a large bump protruding from her forehead just between her eyebrows and a small cut on the bridge of her nose” after hitting her head on a pole at recess. The school never notified them of the accident. Weatherspoon believes his daughter suffered a concussion during the incident that could’ve led to the suicide. A 2016 Canadian Medical Association Journal study found that adults who had suffered concussions had an increased risk of committing suicide.
She also started isolating herself from family. It wasn’t until after her death that her 8-year-old brother told the family she had mentioned suicide in the past.
However, Weatherspoon doesn’t blame anyone for A’layah’s death. “You have got to have that dialogue, to allow your kids to just talk about themselves. Ask them the tough questions, ask them if they’re being bullied in school,” he said. “It’s too late for her, but it’s not too late for someone else’s kid. Talk to your kids. As parents, we can think everything is okay and it’s not. A little girl that was full of life is gone.”
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