Stand up, Speak out: Rally raises awareness against bullying, suicide after death of teen

Updated: Jan. 28, 2021 at 8:04 PM CST
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CARRIERE, Miss. (WLOX) - The death of a Pearl River Central High senior earlier this month has brought current and former students together to speak out about bullying.

The family of Gavin Pell, 18, said the teen took his own life on Jan. 3rd. As an aspiring chef, those who knew him say he was on the quiet side but when he stepped in the kitchen, his food’s flavor spoke for itself.

Gavin’s death brought students together Thursday outside the high school, where they gathered in an effort to speak out against bullying and encourage anyone considering suicide to reach out for help.

Holding signs and ribbons to show support for Gavin and his family, as well as anyone else affected by bullying or thoughts of suicide, the students called on school officials to do more to prevent these things.

“People have lost that sense of feeling comfortable with talking about mental health,” said Jade Howell, who helped organize the rally. “I wish for people to know, you’re not alone.”

Many of the students there said Gavin was bullied and that bullying is part of the culture at the school. They are hoping Gavin’s death prevents another student from feeling the same way and that it causes the school to take more notice.

“If you’re going through something, like depression or suicide, just know that there’s people here to help you,” said Anniemae Keller, who helped organize the rally. “Just know that if it’s just a friend, best friend, that one aunt, just reach out to them and say ‘Hey, I’m feeling like this, can I talk to you?’”

According to the school district, neither Pell nor his family reported bullying to administration. The district said it administers discipline as needed when bullying is reported.

“We’ll administer discipline if necessary in those situations,” said PRC Superintendent Alan Lumpkin. “I can tell you every case that’s witnessed and every case that’s reported is dealt with and investigated.”

The Pearl River High principal said that the student council is planning to dedicate a week of school events to raise awareness against bullying and suicide.

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