BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - A family in Birmingham is coping with the suicide of their 9-year-old daughter, Madison Whittsett. A spokesman for the family says she hung herself in her bedroom closet, likely in response to a long period of bullying and side effects of her ADHD medication.
"It seems very shocking, but the fact of the matter that young people are hearing about suicide. They are seeing it. They are becoming aware of it,” said Dr. Nadia Richardson with No More Martyrs, a health awareness campaign committed to building a community of support for Black women with mental health concerns.
Dr. Richardson is a mother of a 9-year-old daughter herself. She said while difficult, it’s time parents start to have conversations about bullying. She said some children are victims and others are behind the bullying.
She said there are signs to identify that your child is bullying others.
“Bullies often are individuals who have been bullied themselves,” said Richardson. “If you see a child start to bully their siblings, arguing, but this is above that very mean and intentional intimidation. It could be they haven’t found resolution to their bullying,” she continued.
Richardson said if your child is behind the bullying, hold them accountable. “Make sure they understand the consequences of their actions.”
Richardson said children who are the victims of bullying feel they don’t have a resolution to it and that can result to suicidal thoughts. "If you have a child that says ‘mom, I’m considering suicide’, the parent should approach that child with a lot of love, no judgment, no shame, and and a lot of support. The next step is to get them to a licensed mental health professional. "
9-year-old Whittsett was a 4th grader at Martha Gaskins Elementary School in Birmingham. The school district released this statement about her death:
“Birmingham City Schools focus continues to be on the care and comfort of the Martha Gaskins school community. The district is continuing to provide support and resources for staff, students and families in need as they process emotions, fears, anxieties and questions related to this tragedy. In response to recent inquiries, Birmingham City Schools has not identified a school bullying issue in connection with the recent passing of the student at Martha Gaskins Elementary School. Our thoughts and prayers remain with the impacted family.”