Ottawa Councillor Allan Hubley has said homophobic bullying at school was one of the reasons his son, Jamie, committed suicide on Oct 14.
“We must do whatever we can to wipe out bullying for any reason in our society and especially in our schools,” Hubley said in an Oct 17 press release. “Young people are very vulnerable and have enough pressures in life to have to deal with aside from the stress of being bullied. My family’s wish is that no more families have to suffer the unbearable pain of losing a child. No child should have to deal with depression or feel hated because of their beliefs — that is not the Canadian way of treating others.”
Hubley said bullying that began in Grade 7, when Jamie was picked on because he was involved in figure skating and not hockey, exacerbated his son’s struggle with depression.
More recently, Hubley said Jamie was taunted for trying to revive a rainbow support group for gay students at AY Jackson Secondary School.
He said Jamie “was called vicious names in the hallways and online,” and students tore down posters about the group.
While Hubley said his son received support from family and school officials, “Jamie felt it would never stop.”
Hubley said he believes bullying was not the only reason his son committed suicide. He said Jamie had long struggled with depression and had been receiving care from doctors at CHEO and counsellors.
“Although James had a great many people who loved and supported him, something in his mind kept taking him to a dark place where he could not see the positive side of life, which led him to this drastic and tragic decision on Friday.”
Hubley emphasized that bullying isn’t always physical. He said an increase in cyber bullying means there is often no safe place for children to go. “Even when they are at home they can still be victims,” he said.
Hubley promised to “bring awareness and resources to those groups working to stop the bullying and find a treatment for depression.”
He also thanked family and friends for supporting his family.
UPDATE: 20 OCT 2011 – The full text of Alan Hubley’s statement can be read on his site here.
Statement for Councillor Hubley on the passing of his son James
This past Friday, our family suffered one of the worst experiences that can happen to a family when we lost our boy – Jamie. To make this even more difficult, his death was a result of suicide.
I would like to thank all the family and friends that have been helping us get through these very difficult days. Very special thanks to everyone that came out in the rain to walk every foot of our community to look for our boy. The outpouring of support has shown us that our angel was loved by many and we were not the only people to witness his beautiful spirit.
Jamie was for most of his life a very happy and confident child. He was a compassionate person always looking to help others and didn’t have a mean bone in his body. Jamie often worked with me on community events and our many efforts to help others were made more effective with his ideas. From a very young age he wanted to make a better community and a better world.
He was a championship figure skater for years and was just beginning to excel as a singer. He enjoyed acting as well. He had a wide circle of friends and was involved in many different clubs and groups both in and outside of school. James’s family and friends unconditionally supported and accepted him for who he was and whatever direction he wanted to go in life.
James had been suffering with depression and was receiving care from doctors at CHEO and counselors. These professionals, along with James’s family and friends, were trying to help him learn to cope with his depression and other issues one of which was his struggles with his sexuality. He struggled with the idea that people can judge you harshly even when you are trying to help others. Jamie asked a question no child should have to ask – why do people say mean things to me?
Although James had a great many people who loved and supported him, something in his mind kept taking him to a dark place where he could not see the positive side of life, which lead him to this drastic and tragic decision on Friday. Jamie is free of his pain now and there is a new angel but we have paid too high a price.
There are some reports in the media and on social media that James was bullied. This is true. We were aware of several occasions when he felt he was being bullied. In Grade 7 he was treated very cruelly simple because he liked figure skating over hockey.
Recently, when Jamie tried to start a Rainbow Club at his high school to promote acceptance of others, the posters were torn down and he was called vicious names in the hallways and online. We had meetings with officials at the school and were working with them to bring an end to it but Jamie felt it would never stop.
We will not say that the bullying was the only reason for James’s decision to take his own life but it was definitely a factor. As his family and friends or even if you never met him but want to help, we must do whatever we can to wipe out bullying for any reason in our society and especially in our schools. Young people are very vulnerable and have enough pressures in life to have to deal with aside from the stress of being bullied. My family’s wish is that no more families have to suffer the unbearable pain of losing a child. No child should have to deal with depression or feel hated because of their beliefs – that is not the Canadian way of treating others.
Bullying doesn’t always take the form of physical violence. Especially today with cyber bullying on the Internet, children often feel there is no safe place to go; even when they are at home they can still be victims. Earlier I mentioned his posters being taken down. Many friends have offered to stand by the posters to ensure children that may want to meet and talk about issues that don’t harm others will be given the chance to do so. The school has made a promise to me that they will ensure the posters are protected. We hope from our tragedy others will become more active in stopping this cruelty towards children.
To this end, after my family and I have had some time to come to terms with the loss of our beautiful son James, I will be working hard to use my energy and public position to help bring awareness and resources to those groups working to stop the bullying and find a treatment for depression. Wendy and I have asked that all the people wishing to make a donation in Jamie’s memory can direct them to Youth Services Bureau’s Mental Health Walk in Clinic.
Over the years I have tried to help a lot of people and I was very proud that my beautiful boy was also learning the joy that comes from helping others. I need time to deal with the pain of not being able to save my precious boy and will speak more on his life and these issues later.
Kanata South Councillor Allan Hubley