A 14-year-old Florida boy committed suicide in his school’s bathroom last week, and according to his mother it’s because of the bullying that was inflicted upon him by fellow students.
“The hopelessness was overwhelming,” Shaniqua Hawkins, the mother of Lamar “Shaq” Hawkins III, said.
Lamar, whose health issues stunted his growth, was found dead at Greenwood Lakes Middle School in Lake Mary, last Wednesday with a gunshot wound to the head.
According to the sheriff’s department, the death is under investigation to see if bullying was involved.
The boy’s parents met with the school administration about the bullying multiple times, including as recently as two to three weeks before the suicide, said Matt Morgan, a lawyer for the family. Lamar killed himself with his father’s gun, which Morgan said was properly stored.
Seminole County Public Schools Superintendent Walt Griffin said in a statement that he was aware that the family maintains that the boy killed himself after being bullied but could not comment while a sheriff’s investigation was underway.
“This is a very tragic circumstance and our hearts and prayers remain with the family during this difficult time. … The school board has a comprehensive bullying policy that is fully enforced in all of our schools,” Griffin said.
Shaniqua Hawkins said the family moved from New York City two years ago to get Lamar away from bullies who picked on him at his school there.
Morgan said the boy was about 4 feet 6 inches tall and weighed less than 80 pounds. The family nicknamed him after retired NBA star Shaquille O’Neal for his big personality and grand outlook on life, Shaniqua Hawkins said.
Shaniqua Hawkins said bullies pushed Lamar down stairs and off his chair in the school cafeteria, and mocked him for his small stature.
“We now know that he was unable to continue his fight against the bullies. They won … I believe he took his life at school to send a message to these bullies that they were to blame for his suffering,” Shaniqua Hawkins said at the news conference.
Our thoughts are with the Hawkins family. It’s a shame that this beautiful child had to deal with cruelty.