UTAH (ABC4) – The family of 12-year-old Drayke Hardman, a boy who died by suicide this week, is speaking out about bullying and trying to raise awareness through their movement #DoItForDrayke.
“Drayke’s personality was all about people. He loved to make people laugh. He loved to do what he could to always make sure that somebody had a friend,” said Samie Hardman, Drayke’s mother.
The family says that Drayke had a heart of gold and was kind to everyone around him. They are devastated by the loss and want to do what they can to make sure no other parent has to go through this. Already, they’ve received a lot of support, including purple ribbons, Drayke’s favorite color, put along Main St. in Tooele.
Drayke was a huge Utah Jazz fan and even some of his favorite players have reached out, including Donovan Mitchell.
“And in his message, it says, ‘your boy will be taking the court with us tonight.’” Samie said.
The family said that stopping bullying comes from within the home.
“Deep down there’s something broken that this child took from my son, and it has to come from somewhere, because like Samie said, children aren’t naturally angry,” said Andrew Hardman, Drayke’s father. “So for him to have to attack my son to build his confidence means he was lacking something. So, in a sense, this bully was also a victim, and that’s where we need to find the solution is teaching our children that the world is broken, but they’re the generation that is going to fix it.”
Nathan Watkins, the Program Director of Wasatch Family Therapy, explained the psychology of bullying.
“The bully is only projecting their fears onto the others around them,” Watkins said. “And that may be true often times, children develop mentally, depending on the age, and are looking to be successful amongst their peers. And so that success may come in the form of them looking to best someone else in some way, shape or form and if they don’t feel like they can do that, they might look to do that in other ways.”
The family encourages that parents talk to their kids about how to be kind to others.
“It’s learned. It’s a conversation not only do we as parents need to sit down and have with our kids, but it’s conversations we need to have with ourselves – who are we as people and what are we unknowingly teaching our kids,” Samie said. “….I’m angry and I’m hurt and I’m broken and yet part of me just wants this bully to find peace. To be fixed. To not have any other kids fall.”
Watkins said it’s important to talk to children about bullying early on, stating, “Parents should start as early as kids spending time with other peers, other friends. Especially, maybe every time when they get ready to start the new school year, talking about how we can express kindness.”
Those that want to donate to the family can do so at a GoFundMe started for the family.
If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, call the suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-TALK, or visit the website for the National Alliance on Mental Illness in Utah: namiut.org.