Philadelphia School District Reeling From 3 Student Suicides

Ten-year-old Malik Kelly loved reading, listening to music and playing with his dinosaurs. He was a quiet boy with a head for entrepreneurship. Recently, Kelly used birthday money to invest in his favorite stocks — Nike, Microsoft and Amazon.

“He was always thinking of ways to make money or raise money to give back to his family and his community. His ideas ranged from feeding the homeless, to building a shelter for women and children,” according to his obituary.

Two weeks ago, Kelly killed himself after school.

"He came home ... and he told me that today was the worst day ever. And I just want to know what made yesterday the worst day ever for my child," his mother, Tynisha Kelly, told reporters outside a vigil for the little boy.

The elder Kelly said her son, a former student at Samuel Pennypacker Elementary School in the West Oak Lane section of Philadelphia, turned to suicide after being bullied. She told reporters her son left a note naming the students who harassed him.

"I don't want another parent to ever, ever endure what I'm going through right now. These kids are hurting," Kelly said.

Just two days after Kelly took his own life, two more Philadelphia-area students also killed themselves, the Philadelphia School District said in a joint statement with the city.

A 14-year-old female student from a Northwest charter school died by suicide on May 14. On May 17, an 18-year-old student from Howard Horace Furness High School in South Philadelphia also killed himself.

Parents concerned about their child's well-being should look for signs like withdrawing, giving things away or saying goodbye. Mental health experts recommend asking direct questions about how they're feeling and say not to be afraid to ask whether they're feeling suicidal. 

“Anytime we lose a child in this city to suicide, we all mourn,” the school district said. “We must ensure that all young people, no matter their circumstances, know that there are people and resources to help them in times of despair.”

Suicide is the third-leading cause of death among people between the ages of 10 and 14, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is the second-leading cause of death for people between the ages of 15 and 34.

Overall, more than 1 million Americans attempt to take their life every year, the CDC says.

The school district did not disclose how many students die each year by suicide, but did say it has communicated with principals, counselors, teachers and parents about how to address intimidation and depression in young people.

The city’s Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disability Services (DBHIDS) is also providing consultation and support to students and staff.

For those who need immediate help, text 'HOME' to 741741 or call 800-273-TALK (8255).

NBC10 will be unveiling a special series on suicide prevention and awareness starting June 6.

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