A 13 year-old boy hanged himself after school bullies taunted him for wearing shoes from Walmart.
Aaron Fuller was found dead on January 11, after enduring over a year of mockery about his clothes and family finances.
Aaron’s devastated father Steve told of how his son would change into a battered old pair of Nikes as he got into school, just to try and stave off the taunts.
Steve, of Toledo in Ohio, told the Toledo Blade that when Aaron forgot his lunch, the bullies would tell him this was a sign his parents didn’t love him.
Aaron was so disturbed by the abuse about money that he took $135 his father had given him for a school camping trip and put it on his lunch account at Lake Middle School.
The youngster became withdrawn, stopped standing up for himself, and sat alone at lunch. He first tried to kill himself last September, by drinking a bottle of rum, only for Steve to find him in a pool of his own vomit and save him.
Afterwards, the youngster told his dad he had downed the booze in a bid to make the pain stop.
Explaining the gravity of his family’s loss, Steve said: ‘Every night when I go upstairs, his room is right across from ours, and I look in there and I still can’t believe it, I still say goodnight to him and tell him that I love him.
‘I can’t say it hasn’t sunk in that he’s gone, but I don’t want to believe it. I just can’t believe it right now.’ Steve told of how Aaron was initially picked on during the last school year, prompting them to approach staff at the school.
He and Aaron’s stepmother Tami say little was done to help. They believe Aaron finally buckled under the weight of the abuse after it crossed over onto social media, meaning the teenager had no respite from his tormentors even while at home.
Steve said: ‘(The bullying) has to stop. ‘People have to learn…These kids aren’t just getting bullied, but they know if they go say something to a teacher or someone else, they’re the next one who is going to get picked on or beat up.’
A Lakewood Local Schools spokesman said they were ‘heartbroken’ at news of Aaron’s death. Superintendent Jim Witt refused to comment on the circumstances that led to the teenager’s suicide, citing an ongoing police investigation and potential litigation.