TOOELE COUNTY, Utah (KUTV) — A Tooele County family is heartbroken with the loss of their 12-year-old boy who took his own life after he was bullied at school over the past year.
Parents Samie and Andrew Hardman shared in an emotional interview that they thought they’d done everything they could for their son, Drayke.
They confronted the problem and even got the school involved when the same student continued to bully Drayke. At one point, according to the Hardmans, the school even took action and issued a suspension to that classmate.
Drayke’s parents said they even sat him down to have tough conversations about where his mind was with the continued bullying. Samie said she asked her son recently if he had suicidal thoughts.
“He said, 'no, no,' and it was almost like he was disgusted that I would have even asked him,” she said.
Drayke’s parents said he came home from school Monday with a black eye and lied to them about how he got it. Drayke confided in his sister about a physical altercation with a classmate.
His sister told their parents, who confronted Drayke and encouraged him to reach out to them if he was struggling. His response to them was, “snitches get stitches.”
On Wednesday evening, Samie and Andrew recalled Drayke asking to miss his basketball practice and stay home instead — they said he seemed to be doing alright. That night, however, Drayke tragically took his life in their home.
His sisters found him in his bedroom, and the family rushed him to the hospital. Medical teams declared him deceased Thursday morning.
The Hardmans said they are sharing their story during their time of loss and heartbreak so other families can pay it forward and “Do It For Drayke” by teaching children to be kind.
“Kids are going to be the kinds of kids that are going to do what they want, until they know that it’s not OK. I think that that’s where those hard conversations come from,” Samie said.
Andrew said his son feared retaliation and didn’t want to let his family know how deeply the physical and emotional bullying he was experiencing was hurting him.
The Hardmans encouraged parents to watch for signs of aggression with their children, explaining that as parents on the other side of this situation, they’d taken all the steps they knew to take.
Utah Jazz players who heard of Drayke’s story and his love for the team and basketball reached out to the family. Some even contributed to the GoFundMe page created to help cover Drayke's memorial service expenses.
Donovan Mitchell, Joe Ingles and Rudy Gobert all reached out to the family to offer their condolences. Ingles told Drayke’s father that given these incidents with Izzy Tichenor, a 10-year-old Davis County girl who also took her own life due to bullying, and now Drayke, the bullying has to stop.
The team supports the family’s message to #DoItForDrayke and teach kindness in homes.
If you or someone you know feel hopeless or in crisis, resources are available. Call the national suicide prevention 24-hour lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. A list of area-specific suicide and crisis prevention hotlines in Utah can be found here.
Utah students can talk or text with a counselor through the SafeUT app.
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