WYOMING, Mich. – The community is coming together to remember one of their own and raise awareness about bullying. Brandon Larsen, 14, ninth grader at Wyoming Junior High School, took his life Monday night. Family said he was bullied for months.
Thursday classmates and loved ones held signs standing along 28th Street for a car wash, in hopes of raising money to lay Brandon to rest.
“He was so wonderful, he really was,” said Melissa Larsen, Brandon’s aunt. “He was so much fun. And he really was like simple. He loved simple things. He was trying for popularity, or the coolest thing out there. He cared he really did, and it’s so sad that so many people missed such a friend he would have been to them.”
Family and friends told FOX 17 that Brandon was bullied for months. When he wrote out about being bullied on Facebook, family said, they would talk with him.
“He would on Facebook say things, and then we would try to talk to him, and talk him through it,” said Chris Wilkerson, Brandon’s grandmother.
Then a text from a friend surfaced after Brandon’s death telling Brandon’s family that he wrote her two letters. The friend says she’s “so sorry” she did not show anyone until now.
In letters to the friend, Brandon wrote about being upset about being pushed into lockers:
“I feel like I don’t matter… nobody even likes me… I don’t know why I’m still here..”
“I don’t know what to do about bully they shoved me into the lockers today and the teacher across the hall didn’t even care. I feel invisible. Am I? I don’t know what to say to them or if I should shut up. What should i do? They told me to kill myself last week. Who would even miss me?”
Then Monday night, Brandon took his life.
“It needs to be talked about every day, especially it needs to start elementary, it needs to start in kindergarten,” said Melissa Larsen. “Instead of schools saying it was an isolated incident, every incident needs to matter.”
Wyoming Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Thomas Reeder told FOX 17 that in school students are taught that the most important thing about bullying is to report it. Reeder said dozens of students are being interviewed and officials still have no information about any bullying that Brandon faced: No one ever made a report or came forward.
Reeder called this an “incredibly sad and tragic incident” and said he “cannot imagine anything more gut-wrenching than to lose a child.” He said the school district has met with Brandon’s parents and asked that anyone with information to step forward.
Now Brandon’s family is raising awareness.
“It needs to be more kids reaching out to kids because if Brandon felt like he had kids to go to, or if he felt like he could have gone to me, or someone, because kids are a lot less scary than adults,” said Kaitlyn Larsen, Brandon’s 10th grade sister. “I feel like somebody my age will understand my problems more than somebody who experienced them 10 years ago.”
“You hear of it, but you never think it’s going to happen to you and it did,” said Wanda Hirst, Brandon’s grandmother. “We’re going to miss Brandon very much so.”
If you would like to help, Brandon’s family has set up a website to raise money for his funeral.
Family members also said there will be a candlelight vigil Friday night at Wyoming Junior High School.