Nine-year-old girls in fourth grade should be enjoying time with their families, playing with friends, going to school. Sadly, the life of McKenzie Adams took a tragically different route during the holiday season in 2018. The Alabama girl took her own life by hanging herself in her grandmother’s home. In the aftermath of her suicide, McKenzie’s family reported that the young girl had been subjected to months of racist bullying. 

Typical Monday Night

According to McKenzie’s family, nothing seemed out of the ordinary on the night she ended her life. McKenzie was known as an intelligent student. She dreamed of becoming a scientist. 

After dinner on Monday evening, McKenzie was doing her homework, as she always did. She was doing her homework in the livingroom where her grandmother was watching television. In the middle of her efforts, McKenzie excused herself and went to the bathroom, according to her grandmother.

After a bit, her grandmother noticed that McKenzie had been in the bathroom longer than normal. Her grandmother when to the bathroom, finding the door locked and no response from McKenzie from inside the room. 

The grandmother went to the kitchen and retrieved a butter knife to open the door. She was able to jimmy the door unlocked. Entering the bathroom, the grandmother found McKenzie. The girl had hung herself. 

The grandmother called 911. Paramedics came to the scene and performed CPR. In the end, McKenzie was pronounced dead at an area hospital. 

A Target of Persistent Bullying

McKenzie’s family shared the young girl’s life story. At the heart of the information provided by the family after her death by suicide was the fact that McKenzie had been subjected to bullying by some of her fellow students for months. 

The bulk of the bullying involved racial taunts. McKenzie was a Black American girl. The taunts and bullying seemed to stem primarily from her friendship with a fellow student, a boy who happened to be white. Examples of the bullying included jeers like “you’re ugly,” “black bitch,” and “just die.” 

The girl’s family said that they reported the incessant bullying to school officials. Despite the fact that the family strongly asserts they reported the harassment, school officials maintain that they had no official records of the bullying. Despite the lack of formal documentation, school authorities did make it clear that they have no reason to doubt the family’s account that McKenzie was the target of persistent, cruel bullying.

Pervasive Nature of Bullying

Unfortunately, McKenzie Adams is far from alone when it comes to bullying. Sadly, McKenzie’s situation is not isolated when it comes to the matter of a child taking his or her own life because of bullying. The statistics associated with bullying among youngsters are alarming and can be broken down into three categories:

  • Physical bullying
  • Emotional bullying
  • Cyberbullying

In many cases, a child is subjected to bullying on all three fronts.

Physical Bullying:

  • 13.2% of young people reported having been physically bullied in the past year
  • 21.6% reported at least one incidence of physical bullying in their lifetime
  • The highest rate of physical bullying is reported by six to nine-year-old children at the rate of 21.5% in the past year and 28% lifetime 

Emotional Bullying:

  • 19.7% of youth report being teased or emotionally bullied in the previous year
  • Nearly 30% report emotional bullying over their lifetime
  • Again, six to nine-year-old children reported the highest rate of bullying with 30.4% reporting emotional bullying in the past year

Cyberbullying:

  • 5.6% of 14 to 17-year-old children reported cyberbullying in the past year
  • 7.9% of 15 to 17-year-old children reported cyberbullying over their lifetime

Research Into Suicide Among Children

A decade ago, suicide among children was what many people considered unimaginable. In the past 10 years, a sharper focus has been placed on suicide among children, including elementary school-age young people. The National Institutes of Health has reported a significant research study on the subject of suicide among children. 

The study revealed that elementary-age children are more likely to be Black and male than is the case with adolescents who take their lives. The most commonplace way in which elementary-age children take their lives is by hanging, suffocation, or strangulation. There are cases in which children take their own lives using traumatic methods as well, including firearms and knives. 

A majority of elementary-age children who die by suicide have relationship issues with their family or their peers. Indeed, relationship issues of some sort are associated with over 60 percent of elementary-age children who take their own lives. This includes a significant percentage of elementary-age children who are bullied. Bullying is a primary underlying motivator when it comes to the suicide of an elementary age child.