Parents Blame Bullies for 5th-Grade Suicide

A nationwide survey of more than 15,000 students in grades six to 10 showed that 30 percent reported experience with bullying - 11 percent as targets, 13 percent as bullies themselves and an additional 6 percent who said they had been both aggressor and victim.

Bullying victims direct their anger in two directions, Quiroz said: at themselves or toward others, including their tormentors.

The Blue Springs School District has had a bullying policy since April 2004. The policy was expanded in 2006 to add that threats in writing, including e-mails and text messages, could be considered acts of bullying.

In the weeks after Brandon's death - including a contentious school board meeting where angry parents brought up the case - officials said they adhered to the policy.

The day after Christmas 2007 would have been Brandon's 13th birthday. His absence made the holiday a painful one for the Myers family.

"This is the first year he's not been around," said his father, Randy Myers. "We're struggling."

Down the block from Brandon's house, a solitary plaque marks his shortened life, a tribute to the passion that drove him to awaken in the pre-dawn darkness each morning so he could fish at the neighborhood lake before school.

"Forever Fishing," the plaque reads. "Brandon Myers."

Fishing was an escape for Brandon, a respite from the daily taunts at Voy Spears. He would fish at the pond with his buddy Trystyn, or with his mother's boyfriend at nearby Lake Lotawana. Summer meant bullfrog hunting trips with his grandfather in southwest Missouri.

Inside Trystyn Wagner's home, toy frogs of all shapes and sizes surround a hallway display of baseball cards, fishing photos and other reminders of his late best friend.

A few days before Brandon's death, the two friends argued over a girl. They quickly patched up the dispute, but guilt from that encounter and its proximity to Brandon's suicide hangs over Trystyn, his mother said.

"He said he wanted to be next to Brandon," said Amy Wagner, who has since moved Trystyn and his younger sister to a private school as a result of what she says was bullying toward her son.

"It's just been a nightmare," she said.

During a Lee's Summit police investigation of Brandon's death, Trystyn told officers that Brandon drew a picture of himself hanging from a rope. The drawing was found by another student and turned in to a teacher, according to a police report.

Another classmate later shared a note from Brandon that further hinted at his risks of suicide.

I "have had enuf of this crap(p)y life," the note reads. "I will hang myself tonight so if you have anything to say to me I suggest you tell me before 4:35 p.m. tonight."

In the note, a copy of which was provided to the AP by Kim Myers, Brandon asked the unknown student to notify others in their class and listed the phone numbers for two classmates he wished to alert.

Kim Myers said she first learned of the warning note in May 2007, nearly three months after Brandon's death, from Lee's Summit police. The note was given to school officials on March 2 by a student's parent.

The unidentified student's mother told police and school officials that she found the note folded on a table in her home two days after Brandon's death and brought it to school later that week.

Another, earlier comment made by Brandon for a December 2006 school assignment shows his struggles for acceptance by his classmates.

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