TAMPA Fla April 21 2011 – Neighbor Doritha Boler described the 10-year-old boy as a happy-go-lucky child who loved to play with other children at the apartment complex on Sligh Avenue.
There wasn’t a day that you wouldn’t see him around, biking, playing slap boxing or fooling around with his friends, Boler said.
“He was pretty outgoing and a good kid,” Boler said.
But the boy, who The Tampa Tribune has chosen not to name, died from an apparent suicide Monday afternoon, Tampa police said.
His mother sent him to his room for a timeout late Monday afternoon for misbehaving. She checked on him about 45 minutes later and found him hanging in his closet from a noose he had fashioned from a game system cord, police said.
A neighbor began to do chest compressions. When police officers arrived, they began CPR. He was taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Police said the preliminary autopsy report indicates the boy committed suicide.
Boler said the parents and community are struggling with the loss.
“Everybody took it hard because we know the baby,” Boler said.
She said residents at the apartment complex believe it was an accident. The boy may have been fooling around with the cord or planning a prank, Boler said.
“We don’t believe he intended to do that,” Boler said. “There’s no way that baby would have done that on purpose. That wasn’t his frame of mind.”
The school district sent grief counselors to Foster Elementary, where the boy was a fourth-grader. The school postponed its FCAT examinations for fifth-graders because of the tragedy. The school’s principal sent a phone message to parents at the school, said Linda Cobbe, a school district spokeswoman.
Although it is rare for a child to commit suicide, suicidal thoughts in children are not uncommon, said Eli Newberger, a pediatrician and an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School.
But it’s typically boys who commit suicide, said Newberger, who has written a book on the development of boys, entitled “The Men They Will Become.”
There is a social code that expects boys to ball up their emotions. They are expected to be independent and “soldier on” when there’s a stress, he said. “Every male should be like a rock and to be impervious to being weak.”
The area has experienced its share of child suicides in the past couple of years.
In 2008, 9-year-old Efrem Tyree was found by his mother hanging in a closet at the family’s Pasco County home.
In 2009, a 13-year-old Hillsborough County girl, Hope Witsell, hanged herself after months of classmates’ taunts. Her family is now suing the Hillsborough County school district for not doing more to help the girl.
Last year, a 9-year-old Lakeland girl, Twan’ya Boyd, accidentally hanged herself by a belt — possibly while playing a choking game to give herself a high.